Fostering surgical innovation with the NHS

13 Nov 2018 4min read

A few weeks ago, NHS clinicians visited Team Consulting’s offices in Cambridge for an evening of surgical innovation. The event welcomed doctors, nurses and medical consultants from Cambridge University Hospitals who had identified pioneering solutions to currently unmet surgical needs. The aim was to work together with clinicians to advance on the technical and design aspects of their ideas.

For this challenge to be possible, Team partnered with engineers from the Clinical Engineering Innovation (CEI) group at Cambridge University Hospitals. Each healthcare professional teamed up with CEI engineers and Team consultants to brainstorm on their projects which ranged from gastroenterology and plastics to otology. As medical device developers, we typically interrogate doctors via questionnaires. This event was a great opportunity to truly collaborate.

Clinicians shared their thoughts and challenges in more details, while engineers and consultants gave their take on design, technical and commercial aspects. After only four hours, the solutions presented ranged from impressive design sketches to functioning prototypes!


It was a privilege to be able to collaborate directly with clinical staff on their ideas, marrying medical knowledge with design thinking and engineering problem solving. During the event we learnt more about the clinicians’ surgical concepts and advanced them on a technical level, but most importantly got an understanding of the broader challenges surrounding their innovative solutions.

The NHS and other healthcare providers are not short of ideas to solve issues in their field as we saw during the surgical innovation event. But it is clear that the resources to develop these concepts are lacking. CEI is a great initiative because its engineers work within the clinical environment and directly with clinicians to develop ideas. But there is only so much that can be done with the budget available.

Another challenge is that the route to funding designs can sometimes be unclear to clinicians at various stages of development. When surgical concepts need to receive investment, many financial resources available for the development of those concepts will assume there is a product lead to negotiate the route to commercial development. But many clinicians don’t want to run a start-up; they simply want to use the solution.


The event was very successful and we’ve had good feedback from all parties. We are proud to have helped inject innovation and industry experience into these ideas and to have been able to better understand the clinical needs of healthcare professionals. Before we repeat the event, we will send Team consultants to hospitals to observe the clinicians at work prior to the innovation sessions themselves – there simply is no substitute for direct observation of the challenges in the clinicians’ environment.

We look forward to collaborating with clinicians and the Cambridge University Hospital Trust in the future, as part of building better networks within our local healthcare community.

Iain leads the surgical activities at Team. He has over 30 years of experience in developing products across diverse business sectors. His skills range from the strategic and commercial to the technical and practical. Iain has worked on and led numerous surgical device development projects, including energy devices, single-use, reusable and complex surgical robotics systems.

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