The United Kingdom is a premier destination for the discovery of medical technology innovations and for conducting research, development, and evaluation of products and services within the globally acclaimed National Health Service (NHS).
The United Kingdom is a hub for one of the world’s largest medical technology (Medtech) industries. It boasts leading research capabilities, with universities that consistently draw in international talent, all while building upon a rich history of pioneering medical breakthroughs.
As part of the UK’s Life Sciences Vision, one of its four key themes focuses on enhancing the NHS’s ability to evaluate, procure, and disseminate innovative technologies more efficiently. This approach enables cutting-edge scientific advancements and innovations to be swiftly integrated into the NHS, benefiting patients and creating opportunities for rapid adoption worldwide.
The United Kingdom is at the forefront of various medical technology domains, contributing to the advancement of healthcare and well-being:
The UK has made groundbreaking strides in understanding individual genomes, facilitating the development of precise diagnostics and therapies that support the concept of precision medicine. Coupled with robust data and informatics capabilities, the UK leads in the application of genomics for personalised healthcare.
From insulin pumps to robotic arms, medical devices are integral to supporting health and well-being throughout one’s lifetime. These devices play a crucial role in improving patient outcomes.
Recent advancements in medical technology have propelled the sector towards greater use of diagnostic imaging, often bringing these technologies closer to the patient. This proximity enables more effective screening, faster therapeutic interventions, and improved patient care.
The UK’s diagnostics sector is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for advanced diagnostic solutions. This offers a range of opportunities for innovative and effective care across various settings, including laboratories, point-of-care facilities, and at-home testing.
Digital Health Technologies
The digital revolution of the past two decades has transformed the medical field. Innovations like AI image analysis and smartphone monitoring systems have reshaped healthcare delivery. Data-driven technology not only enhances clinical efficiency but also empowers patients to take a more active role in managing their health.
These technological advancements underscore the UK’s commitment to staying at the forefront of healthcare innovation and providing patients with the best possible care.
In the United Kingdom, approximately 30 million individuals live with long-term health conditions. This number is expected to continue rising, leading to a growing demand for medical devices and solutions. Consequently, the MedTech industry is experiencing robust growth as healthcare systems seek innovative approaches to address a wide range of diseases and medical conditions.
The UK boasts a thriving commercial health sector and is a leader in terms of life sciences Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects compared to other European countries. This environment offers investors a unique opportunity to tap into a collaborative biomedical ecosystem and a dedicated support infrastructure, with the National Health Service (NHS) at its heart. The NHS supply chain simplifies the process for suppliers, offering reduced points of sale and a single, efficient route to market for their medical devices and technologies. This setup provides an attractive and supportive landscape for businesses and innovators in the field of healthcare technology.
- The Midlands region hosts a thriving and diverse MedTech sector, benefiting from strong support from world-leading research institutions and large teaching hospitals.
- In 2019, the MedTech turnover in the Midlands amounted to £3 billion, reflecting its robust growth and potential.
- The Midlands has a notable strength in clinical trials infrastructure, with institutions like the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) and the Birmingham Centre for Clinical Trials (BCCT) excelling in designing and conducting medical device trials, achieving high accrual rates.
- Approximately 65% of life sciences companies in Wales are engaged in the MedTech and diagnostic sub-sector. In the Cardiff capital region alone, 200 businesses are dedicated to medical diagnostics and devices.
- The sector has evolved into well-established clusters of excellence, particularly in areas like in vitro and molecular diagnostics, single-use technology, and wound care.
North of England
- The MedTech turnover in the North of England amounted to £4.1 billion in 2019, with an additional £1.2 billion in the supply chain. This region offers abundant opportunities for ambitious life science companies, particularly in areas like in vitro and molecular diagnostics, in vivo imaging, and medical devices.
South of England
- The South of England stands as one of the world’s largest life sciences clusters, attracting top-tier talent and businesses engaged in specialized research and the development of groundbreaking medical technologies.
- The region employs around 42,000 individuals in the MedTech sector, with an additional 1,000 in the supply chain, spanning over 1,100 companies. This illustrates the region’s significance in the global MedTech landscape.
The UK government is a significant contributor to health research and development (R&D), with an investment of £2.7 billion in 2019. This accounts for more than 20% of the country’s total R&D expenditure. The UK’s government funding for health research, both in total and per capita, ranks second globally, trailing only the United States among OECD countries. This robust investment places the UK in an excellent position to develop technologies that promote longer and healthier lives.
The UK is also home to several MedTech centers of excellence that offer state-of-the-art research and expertise. These centers collaborate with companies to design, research, and develop their MedTech solutions within an active, large-scale healthcare system. The UK’s world-leading research ecosystem includes centers and infrastructure such as:
- Medtech and In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs): These co-operatives focus on medical technology and in vitro diagnostics, facilitating innovation and research in these areas.
- Artificial Intelligence and Diagnostics Centers: These centers bring together artificial intelligence and diagnostics to enhance healthcare solutions and patient care.
- Health Data Research UK (HDR) UK Health Data Research Hubs: These hubs are dedicated to health data research, harnessing the power of data to improve healthcare outcomes and patient well-being.
The synergy of government funding, research excellence, and dedicated infrastructure makes the UK a formidable player in the MedTech and health research sectors, with the potential to drive innovation and improve the quality of life for individuals.
Business and government support
The UK government’s R&D Roadmap outlines its clear and ambitious long-term objectives for research and development. The vision is for the UK to become a science superpower, investing in scientific research that not only drives economic growth but also delivers societal benefits across the country for decades to come. This strategic investment will serve as the foundation for the emergence of new industries in the future.
In line with this vision, the Government’s UK Life Science Vision has established a 10-year strategy for the life sciences sector. It aims to build upon the achievements and lessons learned from the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, expediting the delivery of innovative solutions to patients.
The Life Science Vision introduces seven critical Healthcare Missions, representing collaborative efforts involving the government, industry, the National Health Service (NHS), academia, and medical research charities. These missions are designed to address pressing healthcare challenges swiftly and effectively, thereby driving progress in the field and improving healthcare outcomes for the population.