Medical technology in the UK

The UK is the third largest market for medical technology in Europe. Investors can benefit from industry partners that offer product support from design to development to delivery.

Market conditions

The UK medical technology sector is a thriving ecosystem of researchers, scientists, engineers, designers and NHS clinicians working in an established industrial base. Together they drive the path of a novel technology from innovation, through the process of design and manufacture, and ultimately to the patient.

There are nearly 3,700 companies in the UK’s medical technology sector, 98% of them are small to medium-sized enterprises. The sector generates a turnover of 21 billion GBP. They produce a vast range of medical devices and diagnostic technologies.

There is a significant focus on single use technology, orthopaedic devices and in vitro diagnostics. The service and supply chain for medical technologies provides essential support including design, manufacturing and regulatory expertise.

The fastest growing segments of the UK industry by revenue are:

  • medical imaging, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%
  • in vitro diagnostics (CAGR 7%)
  • drug delivery (CAGR 7%)
    The fastest growing segments by employment are:

  • digital health (CAGR 28%)
  • drug delivery (CAGR 23%)
  • single use technology (CAGR 19%).

The UK is the third largest market for medical technology in Europe, worth around 7.6 billion GBP.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest customer for medical technologies in the UK and serves more than 60 million patients.

The NHS offers industry the opportunity to engage with clinical experts and commissioners who have a deep understanding of patient care pathways. It allows industry to provide an outcomes-focused approach that delivers quality and cost effectiveness. By developing this evidence base in the UK, companies can unlock business in other global markets.

Our talent and skills

The sector employs nearly 115,000 people and the UK has the highest number of skilled engineers and researchers in Europe.

Businesses can leverage a talent base across disciplines – in engineering, physical, social, medicine and digital services.

Support along the product design, development and delivery pathway

The UK offers the opportunity for medical technologies innovators to:

  • conduct research and development based on unmet clinical needs, matched to gaps in care
  • design, prototype and manufacture, with iterative development
  • test efficacy and prove clinical utility through clinical studies
  • validate products and gain regulatory approval
  • demonstrate value through health technology assessment and partnership with the NHS
  • unlock global market opportunities by using an evidence base generated in the UK

This is all underpinned by access to clinical experts and patients and unique health data resources. In addition, we have a supportive business and investment environment, (with regulation which is sensible and pragmatic) and an established supply and services chain.

Support for medical technology businesses in the UK

The UK offers access to innovative researchers in engineering, physical, social, medical, and digital sciences.

If you’re investing in or setting up in the UK, you can benefit from supportive medical technology partners at every step of your journey from design to development to delivery.

Organisations that provide support

The EPSRC Centre for innovative manufacturing in medical devices is developing advanced methods for functionally stratified design and near-patient manufacturing. This enables cost effective matching of device function to the patient needs and surgical environment.

Innovate UK stimulates technology-enabled innovation. Its Knowledge Transfer Partnership can help businesses develop collaborative partnerships with the UK’s world-class universities, colleges and research organisations.

The High-Value Manufacturing Catapult can support rapid prototyping and help businesses work with leading scientists and engineers to transform manufacturing ideas into valuable products and services.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure and Clinical Research Network offers access to academic and clinical expertise and collaboration. It also provides a managed service for clinical studies, funding opportunities, data samples and analytical support for research.

The NIHR’s Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is a funding scheme to advance healthcare technologies and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need. i4i supports collaborative research and development projects that have demonstrated proof-of-principle and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is a pragmatic and supportive regulator with significant expertise in medical technologies and drug-device combinations.The MHRA’s Innovation Office helps organisations that are developing innovative medicines, medical devices or using new manufacturing processes.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is a world leader in health technology assessment. It produces independent, authoritative and evidence-based guidance on the most efficient ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease and ill health. Its Office for Market Access will help you understand NICE processes, how to work with the body to achieve your aims and how NICE links with different parts of the system.

The NICE Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme identifies medical technologies that have the potential to offer substantial benefit to patients. Medical technologies are likely to be adopted consistently and rapidly if NICE develops guidance on them.

Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are a gateway for industry into the NHS. They are based on partnership working and collaboration between the NHS, academia, the private sector and other external partners.

AHSNs present a unique opportunity to align education, clinical research, informatics, innovation, training and education, and healthcare delivery. They support knowledge exchange networks and provide support for rapid evaluation and early adoption of innovation.

The government also has up to 50 billion GBP available to support finance and insurance for supplies from within the UK to buyers outside the UK. This support takes the form of guarantees, insurance and loans issued by its export credit agency, UK Export Finance.