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Innovation in Medtech continues to grow with statistics published by the European Patent Office (EPO) showing that medical technology was the leading technical field in terms of application filing volumes in recent years. Growth has accelerated considerably in the UK Medtech sector during the COVID-19 global pandemic and further acceleration in growth seems likely with the UK Government pledging millions of pounds to Medtech projects aimed at driving forward innovation in areas such as neurological diseases, hearing aids, robotic muscular assistance and 3D imaging technologies amongst others. Government money is likely to be followed by venture capital investment further enhancing the future of the UK as a powerhouse for Medtech innovation.

The Medtech sector is currently facing unprecedented demand driven largely by the need for the healthcare system to evolve to meet the extreme pressures currently faced by medical practitioners and, in the face of reduced access to medical services for patients, to enable new remote care possibilities for diagnosing, monitoring and treatment. Telehealth and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are rapidly changing the healthcare system by improving patient outcome whilst reducing costs. From products as ubiquitous as wearable fitness trackers to sensor-laden smart pills that can be swallowed by a patient, the availability of real-time health information provides for faster, more accurate and less invasive tracking of health and medical conditions that can be carried out outside of the clinical setting. And another area that has seen an explosion in digital health tools is Femtech with a legion of new mobile apps and wearables empowering women to better understand their health.

More tangible developments are to be found in the medical devices and medical materials sectors where developments often go hand in hand. We have seen the transition from inert biocompatible materials to bioresorbable materials for implantable sensors and bioactive materials which encourage tissue regeneration and healing. Metamaterials having unique properties have also found medical uses, for example in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) where metamaterial resonators have been used to significantly reduce scanning time and improve image quality. And ultra-lightweight mechanical metamaterials that have high stiffness and high strength are being developed for orthopaedic applications.

Read our MedTech Blogs

Medical devices: Insights through IP - new report 2024

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Innovation, Innovation, Innovation

Innovators are looking to harness the power of developing technologies such as Artificial or Augmented Intelligence (AI), Virtual or Augmented Reality (VR/AR) and robotics to create Medtech products and tools that can contribute to a more personalised, connected and efficient healthcare system.

Although AI is still in its infancy, it has already found extensive use in other industries such as transportation and IT. Its application in the healthcare industry now looks set to surge with the global Covid pandemic acting as a catalyst to medical AI innovation.

In these times where healthcare providers are under extreme pressure to reduce costs and patient waiting times, any technology that can optimise medical clinicians’ or medical technicians’ use of time is to be welcomed. AI has provided significant time and therefore cost savings in a number of medical imaging and diagnostic technologies. The capability of AI to carry out repetitive and time consuming analysis of data can be utilised to and improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosis. For example, AI is being used to detect and highlight tissue abnormalities in radiology scans allowing radiologists to prioritise their time and focus on critical patient scans. Even simple blood tests can be better processed using AI where machine learning algorithms can be used to predict diseases and medical conditions with far greater accuracy than traditional methods.

It will almost certainly be possible for AI coupled with telehealth to shift certain diagnostic testing currently carried in the clinical setting into the patient’s home with AI facilitating the early detection of data anomalies leading to earlier diagnosis of medical conditions with an associated improved patient outcome. For example, diagnosis of epilepsy in a clinical setting is typically time-consuming and costly. However, connected, wearable devices can be used to generate data for AI analysis which can be used to detect and predict epileptic seizures and to monitor response to treatment.

Another developing technology that has found application in medical technology is virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). AR is now routinely used to provide enhanced guidance to clinicians during intervention procedures. Development of VR/AR coupled with advances in haptics and motion detection has also allowed the generation of realistic and interactive training environments for surgical procedures. There is currently a whole host of VR/AR simulators available for a wide range of surgical tasks such as neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery and ophthalmologic surgery. VR/AR simulators for training in robotic surgery also exist.

Robotic surgery is just one use of robots in medical technology with other really exciting uses including endoscopy-bots that are thin, flexible robots that can be ‘driven’ to their intended destination where they can deploy various tools or can be swallowed to take photos as they travel along the patient’s gut. Targeted therapy micro-bots can also be driven by helical tails to the intended treatment site where they can provide localised delivery of drugs or radiation. And antibacterial nano-robots that can be introduced into a patient’s blood stream to ensnare bacteria within a nano-mesh are also on their way.

Read more about the Medtech areas that we're currently working in.

Open pages of FemTech Report

Femtech: a growth industry

Special Report 2023

Our report examines the new technologies that have entered the Femtech market in recent years. As well as the ways in which these developments are providing genuine health benefits to women, from early diagnosis of cancer and improved surgical outcomes to more sustainable period products and options for remote delivery of healthcare.  We also look at IP trends in what is a rapidly growing and competitive industry.

Download the report

Forward-looking for MedTech

Development in the medical devices industry in recent years has drawn together aspects of robotics, neuroscience and computer science. The result is neuroprosthetic devices, which can substitute motor, sensory or cognitive functionality by implanting electrodes in the central nervous system which are directly connected to a prosthetic device. This development is partly driven by the pursuit of realism and sensory feedback in prosthetic devices.

A number of companies and academic institutions are working towards a realistic prosthetic hand that can provide tactile feedback and a degree of primitive sensation in a residual limb. But developments in this area are not just curtailed by engineering challenges such as making wireless and robust devices for use outside the lab. Patient studies have found that it is difficult to implant the neural electrodes required for sensory feedback in the right locations in the brain. Understanding the complexities of the brain will be key to improving neuroprosthetic devices.

Sometimes, the high-tech solution isn’t always needed to improve patient’s quality of life. The London-based start-up Koalaa is leading the way in “soft prosthetics”. These prosthetics are designed with functionality and affordability for the end-user in mind. The light-weight prosthetics can even be used by children as young as one year old, and interchangeable tools allow users to perform tasks without needing to replicate the human hand.

Whilst motor neuroprosthetics such as controllable hands will be prominent in the coming years, neuroprosthetics can also be used to restore senses, such as vision and sound. Recently, neuroprosthetics have even been used to restore speech. Researchers from UCSF developed a neuroprosthetic device which restored the speech of a paralysed man. The device interpreted signals from his brain to the vocal tract so that words from a limited vocabulary could be displayed as text on a screen. This achievement is yet another example of how patient quality of life can be significantly improved by neuroprosthetics.

Talk to our MedTech Specialists

Forward Magazines Overlapping 8

Mewburn Ellis


Mewburn Ellis Forward is a biannual publication that celebrates the best of innovation and exploration. Through its pages we hope to inform and entertain, but also to encourage discussion about the most compelling developments taking place in the scientific and entrepreneurial world. Along the way, we’ll engage with the IP challenges that international organisations face every day.