Innovation is a driving force across many industries, particularly in the field of medical device development as it is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible in healthcare.

One key aspect of innovation in this field is collaborative partnerships, where stakeholders from academia, industry, clinicians, patients, and other domains come together to create novel and impactful medical devices.

Ahead of the 2023 PODD Conference, Design Engineer, Luke, explores the importance of partnerships in medical device development, and how they can drive breakthrough innovations that improve patient care:

When we speak about collaborative innovation, we are referring to a multi-disciplinary and/or multi-team approach to answering a shared question and utilising the collective skills and expertise in order to produce and tackle complex challenges. When you need to innovate, you need collaboration. This applies to research and development across all industries, but in an industry such as medical device development where safety and risk management are top of the priorities list, it is essential. The advantages however are not limited to this, as we will explore below.

The ability to bring together diverse perspectives is one of the primary benefits of collaborative innovation. Academia, industry, clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders each bring unique expertise and insights to the table. By collaborating, these stakeholders can collectively identify unmet needs, brainstorm creative solutions, and validate the feasibility and effectiveness of new ideas. This collaborative approach can lead to the development of medical devices that are more robust, user-friendly, and clinically relevant.

Partnerships can also facilitate access to resources that may not be readily available to individual stakeholders. For example, academia can provide access to research expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and funding opportunities. Industry can contribute commercialisation expertise, regulatory knowledge, and manufacturing capabilities. Clinicians can provide insights on real-world patient needs, clinical workflows, and usability requirements. Patients can offer valuable input on their experiences and preferences. By pooling these resources, collaborative partnerships can overcome barriers and accelerate the development and commercialisation of innovative medical devices.

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Another advantage is the potential for faster regulatory approvals. Regulatory requirements for medical devices can be complex and time-consuming, requiring significant expertise and resources. Collaborative partnerships that involve stakeholders with regulatory knowledge and experience can navigate these requirements more effectively and streamline the approval process. By leveraging the combined expertise of the partners, medical devices can move through the regulatory pathway more efficiently, leading to faster market entry and patient access to innovative technologies. 

Haughton Design frequently partner with local universities to undertake research and for access to state of the art facilities, such as healthcare centres or simulated environments. These partnerships also allow us access to participants for human factors engineering studies.  

In addition to this, we have developed a network of expert consultants, who’s specialist areas include the likes of, but are not limited to, electronic engineering, software engineering, regulatory affairs, human factors engineering and materials specialists. Throughout design projects, we make full use of a roster of trusted partners and consultants in addition to our in-house cross-functional expertise, in order for our clients to benefit from a truly collaborative approach. We offer a full supply chain without the cost, time and political implications commonly associated with in house solutions, whilst maintaining our agility and ability to adapt to unforeseen changes of direction.  

For those developing medical devices, whether they be a large pharmaceutical company, a CMO, or a small start up, fostering relationships with partners allows for truly innovative solutions to medical device development. The partnership networks on a project can be as complex or simple as you need – selecting individual partners from all the relevant fields of expertise, or collaborating with a design consultancy like HD who manage the network through internal and external expertise. Whatever approach to collaboration on medical device projects works best for you, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, with the speed at which the medical device world is changing, collaborative partnerships will be essential for success.

Luke Brown - Design development Engineer at Haughton Design Luke Brown 30 August 2023

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Get in Touch with Luke Brown

Design Development Engineer

Luke graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in Product Design and has since developed a broad range of skills from working in the HVAC & refrigeration industries to designing for sheet metal & fabrication. Luke has a keen interest in FEA and 3D CAD modelling as well as a strong knowledge of standards and patents – he is keen to contribute this experience to HD. Outside of work, Luke enjoys being creative be it through music or home improvements.

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