Welsh MedTech firm nominated for ‘Nobel prize’ for engineering

Creo Medical, the company behind an innovative and disruptive new suite of advanced energy, minimally invasive electrosurgical devices, has been named as one of three companies shortlisted for the 2021 MacRobert Award.

The Chepstow based business designs and manufactures highly advanced miniaturised surgical tools that uniquely integrate radio frequency and high frequency microwave energy for highly targeted, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, dramatically improving patient outcomes for cancer care, while minimising the need for traditional surgical interventions, moving treatment out of the operating room.

Founded in 1969, the MacRobert Award is overseen by the Royal Academy of Engineering and is the UK’s longest running engineering prize. It endorses engineering achievements that demonstrate outstanding innovation, tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success.

MedTech innovation revolutionising cancer care

The core of the technology is the creation of an advanced energy platform, delivering power to a range of flexible devices that transform traditional diagnostic instruments such as endoscopes, to technologies that physicians can use to not only navigate to tumours for diagnosis, but to then perform highly precise clinical treatment either non or minimally invasively.

There are around 367,000 new cancer cases in the UK, and almost half of cancers are diagnosed at a late stage in England. But Creo Medical’s innovations promise significant medical and health benefits. It ensures that cancer patients can be treated earlier, with better outcomes due to the quality and precision of its engineering innovation. It also significantly lowers costs, reducing the cost of care by up to £10,000 per procedure in NHS Hospitals, a 50% saving on traditional surgery.

In 2020, the company successfully CE marked five new devices and its devices are now being used across Europe, UK, the United States and Asia.

The MacRobert Award judges were impressed with the quality of the precision engineering, medical instruments and integration with advanced energy solutions. They also identified the future applications of the product within the robotic surgery market and potential ability to operate on areas of the body that are currently hard to reach, as demonstrating the truly transformative potential of the innovation.

Creo Medical has been selected as a finalist for the MacRobert Award alongside two other engineering innovations developed in the UK, that also promise significant medical and health benefits:

  • DnaNudge for its pioneering genetic testing technology that enables consumers to shop more healthily – nudged by their DNA plus lifestyle. Following a simple cheek swab, DnaNudge’s NudgeBox analyser maps the user’s genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. Customers can then use their wearable DnaBand and mobile app to scan products while they shop and be guided by their DNA towards healthier choices. The technology has been rapidly adapted into a gold-standard, 90-minute lab-free RT-PCR test for COVID-19 and is now in use in NHS hospitals, care homes, and supporting the return of the arts sector.
  • PragmatIC Semiconductor for its electronic engineering innovation that takes the silicon out of silicon chips, resulting in ultra-low-cost thin and flexible integrated circuits. These can be inexpensively embedded in everyday objects from food and drink packaging to medical consumables, a crucial step in achieving the Internet of Things and addressing a range of application sectors including the circular economy and digital healthcare. The technology reduces manufacturing cycle time from months to less than a day, allowing agile “just in time” production of microchips, avoiding the risks and waste of global supply chains. In addition, traditional silicon chip fabrication methods have enormous carbon and water footprints, while the PragmatIC approach reduces this by more than 100-fold.

From more accurate diagnosis of cancer, to pharmaceutical production, each of these groundbreaking engineering achievements reflect the UK’s global leadership in medical engineering.

The winner will be announced in July, with the winning team set to receive the signature MacRobert Award gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize.

Now in its 52nd year, MacRobert Award winning innovations have changed the world, delivering enormous economic and societal benefits and contributing to the UK’s standing as a global leader in life sciences.

Craig Gulliford, CEO, Creo Medical said: 

“To be nominated for the UK’s most prestigious engineering award is a tremendous honour for the Creo Medical team, and highlights our passion to improve healthcare and save lives. Our shortlisting tops off what has been a milestone year for the team, bringing a truly novel and innovative medical device to the market, and showcasing the potential of UK innovation.”

MacRobert Award winners are chosen by an expert panel of Royal Academy Fellows, who have vast experience across engineering industry and academia. The Creo Medical finalist team includes:

  • Craig Gulliford, CEO
  • Steve Morris, former COO
  • Chris Hancock, CTO & Founder
  • Dr Nuwan Dharmasiri, Principal RF and Microwave Engineer
  • Sandra Swain, Principal Engineer.

MacRobert Award judge Professor Sir Saeed Zahedi OBE RDI FREng, said:
“The team at Creo Medical are a prime example of the UK’s ability to lead the MedTech industry. Their cutting edge technology is hugely impressive and an extremely important innovation that truly has the ability to revolutionise cancer treatment and patient experience across the world. Their work benefits the local community in terms of high tech sustainable design, development, manufacturing and assembly of precision engineering that will directly benefit the NHS for many generations to come. It will also help the UK export market, creating revenue and enabling future robotic surgery.”

Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, said:

“The UK is a global leader in engineering and technology, as evidenced by its proactive role in tackling the pandemic, from ventilators to vaccine production. After such a year it is no surprise to find medical engineering strongly represented across the finalists for this year’s MacRobert Award for engineering innovation. As we look to build back better for the future, the inspiring achievements of our finalists offer the potential for all of us to have more control over our health and lifestyle.

“These three companies represent the very best of engineering innovation, offering new ways to apply leading edge technologies in our daily lives. Whether using our own genetics to guide us on making healthier food choices through DnaNudge, reaping the benefits of products connected seamlessly thanks to PragmatIC’s flexible electronics or receiving more precise cancer treatment developed by Creo Medical, these developments offer huge potential advantages for the future.”

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