£3.5 million European funding secured to benefit West Midlands life sciences SMEs

The West Midlands will benefit from £3.5 million after successfully bidding for European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) monies to establish a Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC).

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This bid was led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and in partnership with the University of Birmingham and Aston University. 

The grant will be match-funded, including £2.5m capital from the University of Birmingham, meaning £7m will be invested in accelerating the translation of novel innovations in the laboratory through to the clinic and commercial exploitation.

It will support the development of existing markets and stimulate new ones for small and medium sized life sciences businesses, enabling them to bring products to market quickly, at less cost with reduced risk.

MD-TEC will be based on the third floor of the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM), a facility delivered by Birmingham Health Partners.

It goes live this month with completion of the refurbishment by August 2017. Alongside the key delivery partners Birmingham City University, Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network will also be supporting partners.

Liam Grover, Professor in Biomaterials Science at the University of Birmingham, will lead biomaterials development and Dr Tom Clutton-Brock, Clinical Director, NIHR Trauma Management Healthcare Technology Cooperative and Deputy Director of the ITM, will lead medical device usability and safety testing.

Prof Grover said: “MD-TEC will help develop a life sciences cluster around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and University of Birmingham campus and, more broadly, an innovation eco-system across the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP) area.

“It will remove a regulatory blockage to the development of the local life science economy by providing a set of facilities that we have identified to be absent in the region.”

Dr Clutton-Brock said: “It is envisaged that up to 135 small and medium sized enterprises could benefit from the refurbished facilities in the ITM and expertise for ISO-accredited characterisation of devices in terms of safety and usability between May 2017 and March 2020.

“The project will build on the vision of the ITM to accelerate the translation of novel innovations in the laboratory and in simulated clinical environments through to the clinic and commercial exploitation.”

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