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Proof of Concept Grant Kick Starts New Innovation in Hip Replacements

Jointmedica is a research and development company specialising in the creation of orthopaedic implants. The Worcester-based company is at the forefront of innovation in the design of hip and knee replacement products. Its Birmingham Knee Replacement technology (BKRTM) shown in the image was designed in response to poor patient satisfaction scores with knee replacements. The Jointmedica ethos is still very much focused on improving the experience and satisfaction of patients, surgeons and healthcare providers. Their products undergo a rigorous and lengthy testing process to achieve the CE marking required to sell their wares in the UK and internationally.

For the past three years, the company has been heavily focused on exploring the next generation of hip resurfacing implants, a surgical alternative to a complete joint replacement. In October 2017, they made an application to Worcestershire County Councils Proof of Concept Fund. Their successful bid resulted in a grant of £5,000 towards specialist hip simulator testing. Managing Director Terence Smith takes up the story.

"Testing orthopaedic implants helps us to understand as much as possible about how joints function. This means testing our ideas and materials in specialist laboratories with the best scientists. Basically, we use a machine to simulate the normal walking cycle of an average adult. In this instance the funding assistance contributed to our early material evaluation plan, 5 million cycles in a hip simulator with one of the material combinations we are currently reviewing. It's a lot of work just to get over the first hurdle of making sure our products are robust enough for the demanding orthopedic market."

Worcester's Proof of Concept grant - match funded by the company - was a vital first step in these preliminary stages of simulator testing.

"We cannot do this testing in-house. It requires access to a specialist laboratory environment and also to the right skills"

"The funding meant we could evaluate different materials and consider how to apply them to hip resurfacing procedures," explains Jointmedica's Finance and Customer Service Manager, Nina Bennion.

"We cannot do this testing in-house. It requires access to a specialist laboratory environment and also to the right skills"

It is clear that grant funding is crucial to all of their research and testing activities.

"By 'saving' the initial grant contribution, we have been able to employ someone from the local area into our manufacturing engineering team. We are also considering an apprenticeship scheme in the future. The we have in the local community is even stronger now. I would like to publicly thank Worcestershire County Council for this assistance."

"We're an IP rich company with lots of ideas for new orthopaedic products and procedures," Terence explains.

"We are privately owned, I have to generate additional grant funding to support our project ambitions. The best people, equipment and lab time do not come cheap, so I'm always on the lookout for funding opportunities." He added,

"As of June 2018, we managed to secure significant Innovate UK funding for one of our core development projects, we also co-fund a Ph.D. student at Newcastle University who is currently exploring two of our other implant ambitions."

Reflecting on the wider benefits of participating in the Proof of Concept scheme, Nina says, "From my perspective, I am more than happy. The Worcestershire County Council Team gave us really useful advice during the bidding process and the paperwork has not been arduous at all."

Terence also feels there are many supplementary benefits beyond the funding.

If you would like to find out more about Jointmedica then visit their website at : jointmedica.com

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