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Alpine provide F1 expertise to help University of Leicester produce new medical communication device

Project Pitlane and the University of Leicester have worked together to create an innovative new device that enables doctors and nurses to communicate better while wearing PPE, with prototypes produced at the Alpine F1 team’s Enstone factory.

Medical staff regularly find themselves shouting to be heard while wearing PPE – Personal Protective Equipment, including masks and visors – but the MedicCom device aims to fix that.

Project Pitlane, which is a collective of seven UK-based Formula 1 teams brought together to bring F1 know-how to medical challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, worked with University of Leicester professor Tim Coats to bring the device from design to fully-functional prototype in just six months.

MedicCom uses a throat microphone to amplify sound and help patients hear doctors and nurses, while also helping doctors and nurses hear each other much more clearly, thus avoiding miscommunication and preventing staff from straining their voices. Furthermore, a Bluetooth connection links to mobile phones, enabling staff to have a hands-free telephone conversation with a patient’s relatives.

The device was positively evaluated by clinicians in Leicester Hospitals and Project Pitlane helped reduce the size of MedicCom with a more compact battery, lightweight circuitboard components and a smaller speaker and sealing mechanism.

Nine prototypes were then produced at Alpine’s Enstone headquarters, with Alpine Strategic Advisor Bob Bell, Alpine’s former Head of Electronics Jason Rees, and Red Bull Advanced Technologies’ Andy Damerum working with Professor Coats on the project.

“Project Pitlane has continued the work it started during the ventilator challenge, this time assisting the University of Leicester to develop a novel medical communications device to assist NHS clinicians wearing PPE,” said Bell.

“It has been a pleasure to work with both the University and Innovate UK, and we hope that it will lead to further fruitful collaborations.”

Professor Coats added: “Working with the F1 engineers has been brilliant. We’ve been able to use their expertise in advanced electrical engineering and their facilities for rapid prototyping to produce in six months a device which would normally take years.”

The MedicCom project was supported by KTN, who facilitated conversations between Alpine and the University of Leicester, and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Innovate UK.

Project Pitlane comprises Red Bull, Aston Martin, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault, and Williams.

Mercedes and UCL have already collaborated to design and help mass-produce a non-invasive and life-saving ventilator device, while Renault and Red Bull engineers helped produce the ‘BlueSky’ ventilator among many other crucial collaborations.


Report shows Western European medical device market recovering post-COVID

Growth opportunities in agile and home-based healthcare as well as in new-age technologies will particularly benefit RASD, cardiovascular and orthopedic devices.

According to a recent report by international growth partnership company Frost and Sullivan, Western Europe’s medical device market is on track to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by 2023.

The report, titled ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Elective Procedures in Western Europe, 2020–2023’, projects that the market for selective medical devices for elective procedures will reach $16.8 billion (€13.76B) by 2023. according to an aspirational compound annual growth rate of 29.2%.


Because of COVID-19, there was a 45.5% decline in the selective medical devices market for elective procedures from the pre-COVID projections for 2020. However, the restrictions and challenges raised by the pandemic have forced medical device manufacturers to think in new ways, creating growth opportunities in the sector.

“The pandemic has led to a new wave of competition from start-ups and digital business models that challenge the standing conventions of the past, compelling established industries to re-think their competitive stance,” author of the report Bejoy Daniel told MobiHealthNews.

These growth opportunities include:

  • Connectivity-focused and interoperable solutions to enable agile healthcare
  • Data-driven automated training for precision surgery
  • Continued increase in home healthcare services
  • Collaboration and move toward new-age technologies such as 3D printing
  • Compatibility of healthcare services through open architecture

These changes are expected to affect cardiovascular, orthopaedic and robot-assisted surgical devices in particular. Minimally-invasive and robotic procedures are expected to effectively relieve the backlog of procedures and virtual- and mixed-reality technologies will be used for remote training.

Daniel continued: “Managed care providers will take on more financial accountability for patient outcomes as they have determined to have more control of the entire delivery system. Greater shift of cost from payers to providers have led providers to focus on optimising workflows, decrease costs, structure value-based procurement with suppliers and shared savings partnerships with payers.”

Daniel concluded: “Hospitals will be looking at efficiency solutions and hence the healthcare systems will aim to become more efficient both clinically and operationally to ensure they address the surgery backlogs.”


Some of these changes can already be seen in action. For instance in the UK, London’s Royal Free Hospital has introduced Abbott Ultreon 1.0, AI software that helps guide cardiologists through coronary stenting procedures.

There is also a push towards a more integrated health system in the UK with the introduction of the Health and Care Bill. The importance of digitally-connected integrated care systems and initiatives was a key topic at #HIMSS21Europe, accessible here.

Frost and Sullivan recently released two separate studies: one on the global femtech market and another on the effect of COVID-19 on the European telehealth market.


40 new medical device jobs for Galway Gaeltacht

Cambus Medical/Freudenberg Medical has announced plans to create more than 40 highly skilled jobs as part of a €1.9 million expansion work at its facility in An Spidéal in the Connemara Gaeltacht.

This significant expansion will represent an increase of over 60% in manufacturing footprint for the Gaeltacht medical device company who plans to grow to more than 170 employees by the end of 2021. The jobs created will be in the specialised fields of engineering, quality, manufacturing, customer operations and administration. The announcement has been welcomed by Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Cambus Medical, a Freudenberg Medical Joint Venture partner, has extensive experience in providing precision hypotubes, specialty needles and metal micro-component solutions to the medical device industry and supports a global customer base.

Funding for the expansion was approved by the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta as part of the Irish overnment’s Covid-19 Jobs Stimulus Package. The 2,088 sq. m expansion will provide extra production/manufacturing space and administration offices at the company’s current substantial facilities in An Spidéal in Connemara where recruitment for the new jobs is already underway.

The refurbishment will provide Cambus Medical/Freudenberg Medical with the opportunity to overcome previous capacity limitations, develop new manufacturing capabilities and explore new business opportunities and secure new customers.

“The Cambus Medical team is delighted with the support from all of our stakeholders; Freudenberg Medical, for its support and confidence in us, Údarás na Gaeltachta for investing in the site, and all of our staff for making this a reality,” said Barry Comerford, CEO, Cambus Medical. “…We are sure that thanks to our culture, values, determination and persistence, we will someday achieve our goal of 500 people working at Cambus Medical.”

Dr Max Gisbert Kley, CEO of Freudenberg Medical, said: “Freudenberg Medical is proud to support the expansion of Cambus Medical as a joint-venture partner. Since the initial investment of Freudenberg Medical in 2013 Cambus has grown significantly faster than the market and has more than tripled the number of employees in An Spidéal. This is a testament to Cambus’ strong market position as the technology leader for hypotubes and metal components for medical devices.

“This investment illustrates how the jobs stimulus package and the state’s investment in Gaeltacht areas has had, and will continue to yield, positives results,” added Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, CEO, Údarás na Gaeltachta. “In recent months our clients have shown their support for the Gaeltacht by continuing to grow their businesses and staffing in these rural areas, we are very encouraged by their unprecedented progress in the medical device sector particularly over the past year. A Gaeltacht Medtech Cluster in Conamara continues to grow and its global reach and effect is increasing steadily. The continued support of innovative indigenous enterprise in the Gaeltacht forms a central part of our new strategic plan.”


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