Centrally Funded Collaborative R&D Could Spell Future


You may have seen the coverage this week of a new configuration of hip prosthesis, manufactured using PEEK rather than metal.  Nothing too surprising so far. PEEK, especially when reinforced with carbon fibre as in this case, is in many ways an ideal material for orthopaedic applications, being strong and light as well as possessing physical attributes much closer to bone than its metal couterparts. It has been used extensively in such as bone anchors and screws and is an obvious substitute for metal with potential for reduced stress shielding among its numerous advantages.

EC funded partnership

No, what’s noteworthy here is not what’s been done, but the scale of the collaboration that has gone into the development. Firstly lets deal with the funding, without which the thing doesn’t get off the ground. This hip project, codenamed ENDURE (Enhanced Durability Resurfacing Endoprosthesis) is centrally funded by the European Commission, which suggests some form of grant application process under which companies, universities and other entities are invited to bid for specific parts of the work. What happens to the value built into the finished product is not made clear, but it may be that some way of sharing benefits from the resulting Intellectual Property(IP) is built into the original contracts. Either way, the partners benefit from their involvement in tangible as well as intangible ways.

Synergy in innovation

However they’ve structured this, and to be honest we’re guessing, what’s clear is that by collaborating in a group with complementary skills, the team have ended up with something that any individual member may not have aspired to, let alone achieved.

Medtech Industry body Eucomed is clearly a fan, its own pages stating; “This collaboration is a clear indicator of the success of a European innovation model that embraces technology as an enabler of change and acknowledges multi-stakeholder engagement as a means to spur new development and increase patient safety. The medtech industry’s close partnership with like-minded researchers and academics has long been a source of progress – improving patient access to the latest technology and advancing the goal of accessible, sustainable healthcare for an ageing society.”

Another sign of consolidation?

We’ve been keen to point out signs of consolidation in our industry, with companies often establishing contractual agreements to share tender bids, use each others’ technology etc, all ways in which a once burgeoning industry is responding to a new world with greater demands yet less money for healthcare and a consequent greater need for efficiency. This is another example to add to the list and the fact that it’s centrally funded in Europe is the continent’s acknowledgment that “it” has to compete with (among others) USA and cannot do so by relying on a fragmented approach to innovation.

If you want to read more about the development, click here for an item from one of the developing partners, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA.

Other partners in the project include: Aurora Medical, Medicoat, Hunt Developments, Ala Ortho, CeramTec, Invibio, Biomatech and the Universities of Gothenburg and Southampton.

Source: Eucomed, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA