Leveraging university assets and capabilities to respond to changing industry needs – Dr Jo Dixon-Hardy

Date: April 9, 2020

Dr Jo Dixon-Hardy is the Director of Medical Technologies Innovation.

A year ago, I wrote about how the Medical Technologies IKC has used its experiences and the processes it has developed and tested over the past ten years to extend successful innovation practice across academic research translation programmes both regionally and nationally. At that point, we were a year into delivering our Research England-funded Grow MedTech programme, which brings together six universities in the Leeds and Sheffield city regions to tackle commercialisation challenges. Over the past two years, this £9.5m programme has enabled us to extend our approach into partner institutions by embedding a Technology Innovation Manager (TIM), modelled on the IKC innovation management approach, in each one. Although dispersed across 6 universities, these TIMs have been collaborating as a single team, working to find and develop the best partnerships across the programme to promote industry engagement, to increase academic opportunity and to deliver new benefits to patients.

The TIMs each have different but complementary experience of developing commercial products in or with the private sector. They come from life science, chemistry, engineering, and product design back-grounds and have a full appreciation of the pressures involved in technology development for industry, and of the different challenges faced by the diverse stakeholders in medtech product and process development. This ability to offer project management in a way that draws academic and industry imperatives together and delivers impact and outcomes for all parties is one of the unique elements of the Medical Technologies IKC and demonstrates good practice that we are now sharing and embedding with our partners.

We are now two years into our three year Grow MedTech programme and the IKC is finding that the approach means that the complementary capabilities and resources of not one but 6 universities are accessible through a single interface. This enables these universities to connect to make a broader offer to meet R&D needs far exceeding what any individual institution could provide. At the time of writing, this includes a portfolio of over 160 technology development projects involving over 230 academics in 29 universities, over 50 companies and more than 120 clinicians or healthcare professionals.

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