A suite of medical training devices is being produced at a fraction of the cost of established models – leading to an increase in training opportunities and safer surgery.
Usually, training in laparoscopic surgery is based on using high cost surgical simulation devices which are hard for medical staff to access, limiting opportunities for learning.
A start-up business in Merseyside has won major funding to develop and market low-cost keyhole surgical simulators, based on their original model which is now used by nearly 100 hospitals in the NHS.
Having secured an initial £100,000 from SBRI Healthcare for its augmented reality simulator, Inovus was awarded £1 million SBRI phase two funding to complete development of a commercially ready offering, in July 2019.
The Innovation Agency advised Inovus on its SBRI applications and on a successful bid for 50,000 Euros from the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health. This will allow the company to market new products, including a turnkey hysteroscopy simulator, in the UK and abroad.
In November 2018 the company secured £700,000 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and an angel investor, which will lead to an extra four jobs and enable the growth of Inovus Medical’s commercial operations.
The provision of affordable and accessible medical simulation products creates wider opportunities for simulation-based training and learning throughout the NHS. Simulation training in the development of clinical skills allows learners to better understand clinical situations and reduces risk to patients. Learners are able to practise skills and role-play different scenarios, providing valuable preparation for real-life situations.
Access to simulation training for healthcare professionals has conventionally been restricted by cost. Existing medical simulators can typically cost up to £100,000 and are often only available to trainees through universities or hospital clinical skills labs. This represents both a significant cost to the NHS and a barrier to wider medical simulation training for learners.
In contrast, Inovus Medical’s BozziniTM hysteroscopy simulator costs £5,500 and arrives ready for obstetrics and gynaecology trainees to use straight out of the box.
The BozziniTM hysteroscopy simulator comprises an anatomically correct uterus with interchangeable pathologies including endometrial polyps, intrauterine adhesions, endometrial cancer/fibroid and a bicornate uterus. The materials enable life-like tissue handling for repeated practice of core hysteroscopic skills. The simulator is supplied with a 4mm hysteroscope, two hysteroscopic instruments, an HD camera system and 15″ monitor and stand.
The Innovation Agency advised Inovus to apply for its first round of SBRI Healthcare funding which brought in £100,000 to design and produce an augmented reality simulator. In July 2019 the Innovation Agency then supported a successful application for SBRI phase 2 funding of £1 million, which will fund the development of a commercially-ready product.
Funded by NHS England and championed by the AHSN Network, SBRI supports the development of novel technologies with the potential to help complete surgical procedures more effectively and efficiently. The Innovation Agency ran awareness-raising sessions on SBRI’s surgical call and provided support and guidance to Inovus Medical on their final submission.
The Innovation Agency is a core partner with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an EU initiative to boost innovation and entrepreneurship. The Innovation Agency provided a letter of support for Invous Medical and guided them with their bid application. Inovus Medical subsequently received 50,000 Euros funding from EIT Health, which supports solutions to enable European citizens to live longer, healthier lives.
Inovus Medical co-founder and managing director Dr Elliot Street is also one of a cohort of NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs supported by NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Innovation, Professor Tony Young. The Innovation Agency supported both Tony and Elliot at the Health and Care Expo 2018 in Manchester to spread the message of the importance of Clinical Entrepreneurs.
The SBRI and EIT funding will allow Inovus Medical to market new products in the UK and abroad, increasing access to high quality, realistic and affordable medical simulation training.
Inovus now employs seven people, including founders Jordan Van Flute and Dr Elliot Street, and this year won three awards – Insider Media Made in The North West Collaboration Award; St Helens Chamber Small Business of the Year Award; and British Chamber of Commerce Regional (North West) Small Business of the Year Award.
Inovus Medical’s laparoscopic simulators are currently in use in nearly 100 NHS hospitals, potentially saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds. They are located in easy to access places such as doctors’ offices, wards and theatre environments. This means that trainees can access the simulators during the working day, improving their ability to carry out regular simulated training and pre-operative surgical warm-ups.
With the support of SBRI funding, Inovus Medical are currently launching their latest product, the BozziniTM Hysteroscopy simulator, in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.
Rory McCloy, Senior Lecturer in Surgical Education at The University of Manchester, said: “The Inovus box simulator is particularly suited for easy storage and rapid setup. Inovus have targeted affordability and brought to the marketplace a simulator that could be purchased for personal use by trainees and surgeons as well as the unit they work in – every aspiring surgeon should have one!”
Inovus Medical now has eight healthcare simulators on the market, and their products are currently in use in 100 NHS hospitals.
The SBRI and EIT funding will enable the company to introduce augmented reality and software additions to enhance existing products.
Inovus Medical’s latest product, the BozziniTM Hysteroscopy simulator, was launched in 2018 in the UK, with a number of shows at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and also into Europe, North America and Asia.
The £500,000 funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, part of a £700,000 investment round alongside an angel investor, will help to create four new jobs and accelerate the growth of Inovus Medical’s commercial operations in domestic and international markets.
- Inovus Medical was founded in 2012.