Clinical technologies (excluding imaging)

Encompasses a range of topics (e.g. sensors, devices, instrumentation and modelling) relevant to the development of new healthcare solutions. Although the emphasis is on technological advance from fundamental engineering and physical sciences, research in this area needs to have a strong connection with users in the healthcare sector in order to maximise impact.

Due to the importance of Clinical Technologies in providing novel advances across the healthcare sector, we aim to maintain funding in this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

This research area comprises multiple individual medical engineering research areas (e.g. novel therapies and interventions, diagnostic sensors and instrumentation, physiological modelling/simulation, and medical robotics). It is highly multidisciplinary, requiring specialised training and leadership development to create and sustain capability. Over the Delivery Plan, we will work with the community to develop a research culture with these features:

  • Investigators working with relevant industrial stakeholders to accelerate industrial uptake and maximise the potential commercialisation of research
  • A clear collaborative approach with other funders, such as the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and The Wellcome Trust, to ensure that training/leadership is preserved for academic, clinical and industrial needs

The community should focus on co-creating projects with clinicians and other users. By ensuring this relationship, our investment will enable novel research that addresses clinical need and adds to the knowledge base. We will expect researchers to develop strategic relationships with stakeholders with the clinical/regulatory expertise needed for innovative research to be translated.

By the end of the Delivery Plan, we aim to have:

  • Encouraged use of the Healthcare Technologies Impact and Translation Toolkit (Evidence source 1) to foster the ability to accelerate the impact of research
  • Supported diverse research drawing on fundamental technology in areas across our remit (e.g. Sensors and Instrumentation, Microelectronic Device Technology, Robotics, Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry)
  • Promoted opportunities for research across these interfaces in a multidisciplinary manner, as well as through international collaborations

The current portfolio is a diverse suite of investments requiring nuanced strategies to maximise potential. We therefore aim to work with the community to enable implementation of the right strategic interventions. Evaluating the portfolio and assessing the taxonomy will enable us to act fully upon the synergies and opportunities provided.

It is also recognised that this research area is of potential relevance to Official Development Assistance funding streams.

Highlights:

This research area fits with the broader scope of the European medical technologies sector, which is widely regarded as highly diversified, innovative and internationally competitive, second only to the US. (Evidence source 2,3,4)

Medical engineering is a UK research strength. The quality of academic research puts UK universities among the world-leaders. This is highlighted by the number of citations of academic papers, where the UK ranks second in the world for biomedical engineering (second only to the US). (Evidence source 5)

The Maxwell review noted the importance of fundamental engineering and physical sciences research to healthcare. (Evidence source 6) This research area draws on fundamental technologies in mathematics (modelling), information and communication technologies (microelectronics, optical systems), physical sciences (analytical science, photonics, chemical biology) and engineering (robotics, microsystems, sensors, instrumentation) and applies them in the medical technologies sector. The strong multidisciplinary dimension allows for a wide range of disruptive and transformative research possibilities. (Evidence source 7,8,9,10,11)

Throughout the previous Delivery Plan, there was a drive to connect 'technology push' with 'clinical pull' to increase the co-emphasis on novel research and clinical need; this is an ongoing challenge for the area.

This research area remains important for the delivery of the Healthy Nation Outcome and government's Life Sciences agenda; however, as noted above, there is a need to focus activities accordingly. (Evidence source 12)

The UK has a number of centres of critical mass contributing to the health of this research area, by performing world-leading research in medical robotics, sensing technologies and medical device design. The UK has international standing and strength in simulation and modelling of physiological systems - a field of critical importance in the development of personalised medicine and minimally invasive procedures. (Evidence source 13,14)

This research area is vital to delivering the following Ambitions within the Healthy Nation Outcome:

H1: Transform community health and care

This can result from developing real-time sensing technologies for personalised health management.

H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment

Development of novel technologies for sensing and diagnosis, and modelling of physiological systems for patient-specific prediction and evidence-based treatment, can contribute to this.

H4: Develop future therapeutic technologies

Development of novel therapies and approaches to drug delivery and personalised medicine has a key role to play. 

H5: Advance non-medicinal technologies

Novel research into robotic surgery, high-intensity focused ultrasound and bioelectronics can assist in achieving this.

  1. EPSRC, Healthcare Technologies Impact and Translation Toolkit (PDF).
  2. MedTech Europe, The European Medical Technology Industry in Figures, (2015).
  3. Ernst and Young Global Ltd, Pulse: Medical Technology Report (PDF), (2015).
  4. Yole Development, BioMEMS: Microsystems for Healthcare Applications, (2016).
  5. Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Biomedical Engineering: Advancing UK Healthcare (PDF), (2014).
  6. EPSRC, The Importance of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research to Health and Life Sciences (PDF) ('The Maxwell review'), (2014).
  7. Medical Engineering Initiative, Opportunities and Challenges: Advancing and Translating Knowledge and Technology (PDF), (2016).
  8. Biosensors Market by Application (Point of Care, Home Diagnostics, Research Labs, Biodefense, Environmental Monitoring, Food Industry), (2015).
  9. Optoelectronics Industry and Technology Development Association (OITDA), Annual Technical Report 2014 (PDF), (2014).
  10. Policy Exchange, Eight Great Technologies (PDF), (2013).
  11. McKinsey and Company, Disruptive Technologies: Advances that Will Transform Life, Business, and the Global Economy, (2013).
  12. HM Government, Strategy for UK Life Sciences: One Year On (PDF), (2012).
  13. Avicenna, In Silico Clinical Trials Roadmap (PDF), (2016).
  14. VPH-FET Research Roadmap (PDF), (2011).

Other sources:

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Maintain

We aim to maintain this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Clinical technologies (excluding imaging) (GoW)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Sarah Ashwood
Job title: Portfolio Manager
Department: Engineering and Healthcare Technologies
Organisation: EPSRC
Telephone: 01793 444301