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The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) has refreshed its online platform to intelligently connect you to relevant events, funding, thought pieces and specialist staff to help your business innovate and grow.

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An example might be new satellite technology from the space sector that is applicable in the agri-food sector. KTN-UK.co.uk will help you form these unusual and valuable connections.

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The move also marks a closer alignment with our main funder, Innovate UK , with the website branding making a clear visual link. Knowledge Transfer Network is Innovate UK's innovation network partner, and also works with other funders to provide innovation networking services and fulfil our mission to drive UK growth.

We link new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through our network of businesses, universities, funders and investors. From agri-food to autonomous systems and from energy to design, KTN combines expertise in all sectors with the ability to cross boundaries. Connecting with KTN can lead to potential partners, horizon-expanding events and innovation insights relevant to your needs.

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Healthcare Photonics: Market advice and connecting across the supply chain in big demand

Have you ever thought or are you involved in developing products for the healthcare sector?

How is this working out for you and what is that would help you the most?

We want to know, because we believe that we can help. Photonics used in healthcare has been hailed for many years as an area with great growth potential. In the UK we have plenty of world-class research and we also have a strong photonics industry. The question we wanted to answer is, how can the UK tap into the potential of photonics healthcare and what support could have big impact on bringing UK products into the market.

One of the issues with photonics for healthcare is that it is specific and very broad at the same time. From a Health Tech point of view, it is only one, very specific area of technology and from the end user perspective; the specific technology is irrelevant as long as it solves a problem.

If you look at the photonics healthcare subject from a photonics perspective, it is broad because it covers many different photonics technologies, with a variety of supply chains and specialist skills. Be that technology for detection of fluorescence from biomarkers, accelerating healing through phototherapy or laser use for surgery, all of these have different requirements and also constraints.

To analyse the needs and the help that we could provide, it would be much better to focus on a specific end-user area than cover the broad subject in one single go. However, there are general needs that are similar across the range of healthcare photonics solutions and application markets. So this time we are not focussed on specific needs.

The trigger for a series of workshop that we are currently running is the new National Centre for Healthcare Photonics that will be established in Sedgefield by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI). The centre wants to help SMEs to take their product to market quickly and accelerate the commercialisation of research. It receives local funding for these activities.

In June we run our first workshop (more to come end of August, beginning of September). We had a range of people attending but mostly from SMEs who have brought technologies into the healthcare market.

What are the things that were identified during our first workshop?  

Market Intelligence
One thing that became very clear, is the big gap that exists between technology innovators and the end users.  The technology people are aware that they need good market intelligence. The healthcare sector is quite different with its purchasing models and approval levels.  One of the pitfalls could be to listen to only one surgeon about what he would need and then find that this is unique to him.

Regulations and Standards
Another part also raised was, early engagement of experts that understand the regulation and/or certification requirements. We hear stories very often, that technology companies develop a product without considering the regulatory landscape and then realise when they seek approval, that they have to redesign their products. So, considering those early in the technology development, the development process becomes much faster and saves significant amount of money.

Product Validation
This has to be seen especially in the context of medical effectiveness and patient trials.  To ensure that particularly a medical product can be deployed, it needs to show that it is safe and that it works. There are rules that will need to be followed to get a product to be trialled with patients. This can take time and needs to be considered in product development process.

Multi-Disciplinary Engagement
Networking was also seen as key, especially for SMEs. Usually SMEs have expertise in one field but not in all that are required to develop a finished product. This of course means getting in contact with medical professionals but also with other experts in areas such as user engagement or software and electronics development. Working with other disciplines and professions is important. 

Development to Manufacture
Companies wanted help with prototype development, which also included help with developing the complete system in areas that outside photonics, such as mechanical and electronic systems development. Some of devices need to be manufactured under special conditions. Providing advice and also prototyping facility was seen as useful.

If that is something you would be interested in providing input in, than I would like to encourage you to attend one of our other two workshops. We are looking for companies, particularly for SMEs who are interested in or have experience in the area of Healthcare and whose technology is based on photonics. However we would also welcome people with healthcare background, knowledge of approval processes and academics with technologies that they are seeking to commercialise in the healthcare area.

You could be working in diagnostic or on a new therapy, on point of care devices or technology for a laboratory. We are interested in all of the areas.

Here are the following dates for the workshops:

25. August 2015, Glasgow (workshop website)
3.  September 2015, London (workshop website)

or alternatively, send us an e-mail: photonics@ktn-uk.org