28 May 2024

Under the Microscope: Episode 5 – MedConnect North

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Following the success of the MedConnect North “Rediscovering the MedTech journey” 2023 conference in October, Craig Mower introduces himself, and the team.

Hi Craig, can you introduce yourself and tell me about your role?

Hi. I’m one of the Project Managers for MedConnect North.  It’s my role to assist companies and clinicians with the development and delivery of medical device studies in the region. This involves working with our partner organisations, including universities, NHS Trusts, Health Innovation, and the National Institute for Health and Social Care Research, to form and maintain a network of support for innovators and developers within the North East North Cumbria region.

Tell me about MedConnect North.

MedConnect North aims to offer a bespoke service to SMEs, national and international Medical Technology Companies — providing guidance and assistance throughout the Medical Technology Research and Innovation Pathway. The group supports companies to form partnerships with academia and the NHS in the North East and North Cumbria region. In addition, MedConnect North supports NHS staff to encourage, drive and develop innovation, within their organisation.

Our vision is to provide this support in order to expedite the launch of new technologies and services to enhance and improve patient care and positively contribute to the regional economy.

MedConnect North is a joint initiative supported by National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network North East and Health Innovation Network North East and North Cumbria.

What services do MedConnect North offer?

The following services are available but not limited to:

  • Accessing research expertise
  • Support with protocol development
  • Create study documentation e.g. Patient Information Sheets
  • Finance costings for study for grant submissions
  • Negotiate finances with different stakeholders
  • Regulatory approvals e.g. MHRA
  • IRAS form completion
  • REC approvals
  • Managing trial teams
  • Signposting and liaising with NHS research and development departments
  • Meeting milestones and recruitment targets
  • NIHR portfolio support
  • Facilitating contract completion

 

Can you give me some examples of specific projects you’ve worked on?

BEST Study:

A South Tees-based clinician proposed a novel use for a medical device to treat vascular malformations (birthmarks), and support from MedConnect North was extended for this innovative idea. Subsequently, as part of a small pilot study, £15,000 was secured to initiate and explore the viability of the proposed concept.

The Best Study has successfully completed its recruitment phase, reaching the targeted number of participants. Following this milestone, the multi-site arm of the study is now recruiting, with the paediatric element in the process of being set up, marking a crucial step in the advancement of the research initiative. This progress underscores the collaborative efforts that have been instrumental in moving the project forward.

NEBULA Study:

An SME company specializing in photobiomodulation therapy wanted to trial their new implantable device on a cohort of patients in the north east. MedConnect North were asked to facilitate study setup and project manage delivery of the study, including protocol/ study design, and HRA and ethics approval via the IRAS system. NEBULA recruited to time and target and the results generated will help to inform planning for a larger scale randomised controlled trial in the future.

Tell us about your upcoming conference. What are the highlights and key messages?

Title: Exploring Digital Innovations within HealthTech

Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham

Thursday 26th September 2024

The focus of our event this year is on digital health innovations and AI – what SME companies need to think about when setting up digital device clinical trials and what support is available.

We have key figures presenting from MHRA, NICE, Health Innovation North East, ORCHA Health, and the Department of Business and Trade – with additional workshops hosted by Team Consulting, NIHR Coordinating Centre (i4i grants), and ourselves!

We want to really focus on what support is available for med tech companies in our region and how we are part of this.

How do you work as part of Diagnostic North East?

We often liaise with our partners within DxNE for advice when we’re setting up device studies requiring initial validation/ evaluation and laboratory processing, and have worked closely with the NJRO in setting up and opening clinical trials in the region via NHS Trust sponsorship route.

What’s next for MedConnect North?

We recently launched our partnership with the North West Coast NIHR and Manchester Metropolitan University and in addition to this we now cover the Yorkshire and Humber NIHR region – welcoming our new Project Manager Harneesh Gill to the MCN team!

How can you be contacted?

You can register and attend our event in September, but we’ll also be in attendance at Med Tech Expo on 5-6th June with DxNE and HIN NENC partners in Birmingham.

Our generic inbox is: stees.medconnectnorth@nhs.net

Our website: https://medconnectnorth.com/