Ground breaking medical device set to reduce cost of pregnancy care

Amidst rising concerns of the cost of pregnancy care on the NHS, a ground breaking fetal and maternal monitor manufactured in Nottingham is set to help reduce costs and lead to improved patient care.

Developed by Monica Healthcare Limited, a University of Nottingham spin-out company based at BioCity and led by Dr Carl Barratt, this new and improved monitor is the culmination of 15 years of research. A recent £250,125 grant from the Nottingham Technology Grant Fund (N’Tech) will support a further £1m investment into the business as well as final clinical trials and test protocols for the new monitor.

The Monica AN24 is a wireless fetal and maternal monitor that tracks maternal and fetal heart rates, fetal positions, uterine activity and fetal movement data in real time. Unlike traditional bedside monitors, the Monica AN24 is more comfortable and accurate when measuring fetal and uterine activity signals.

It works particularly well with pregnant women suffering from obesity, where using conventional external monitoring to acquire accurate fetal and uterine activity can be challenging. This comes at a time when the cost of care of obesity in pregnancy is an increasing concern. A recent study by Swansea University revealed that obesity in pregnancy can cost the NHS 37% more than for pregnant women who are not overweight.

Monica Healthcare already has a well-established market across Brazil, Russia, India, Europe, the Gulf and Australia. Since receiving their second approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, they have also exported hundreds of devices to the USA.

Dr Carl Barratt, Chief Executive Officer, completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, has over 15 years’ experience developing high-tech products and has managed projects for both multi-national and start-up electronics companies. He commented: “The N’Tech grant is a crucial factor in financing development of our next generation products to improve fetal-maternal care through wireless health.”

Established in 2005 by Dr Carl Barratt, Dr Terence Martin, Dr Jean-Francois Pieri and Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill, the company currently employs nine people at BioCity and the University of Nottingham, and will create an additional nine jobs over the next year.

Dr Bruce Venning, Commercial Manager for Technology Transfer at the University of Nottingham, added: “N’Tech funding support of Monica Healthcare is the latest example of collaboration between the City Council and the University in strengthening the capabilities of technology companies that were formed from discoveries arising out of research from the University. In a challenging funding environment for technology companies, the extra support that N’Tech offers can really make a difference.”

Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs and Skills at the City Council, said: “Life sciences and development of medical technology are key sectors for Nottingham and ones where we have a global reputation for innovation. Monica Healthcare is a prime example of how important it is for universities, business and the public sector to work together to support companies to develop. They have a groundbreaking product and we are very pleased that N’Tech is able to support them to grow their business and get their products, which are addressing a significant medical issue, to market. This reinforces the message that Nottingham has the business support and the talent to compete on the international stage.”

N’Tech grants are geared towards the growing life science, digital content and clean technology sectors, the N’Tech fund is run by Nottingham City Council. The programme is focussed on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the greater Nottingham area.

N’Tech is a core element of the Nottingham Growth Plan a blueprint for the city’s future business growth and one of the most ambitious strategies of the UK’s Core Cities. Measures introduced as part of the plan have played a key role in encouraging new business formation through various finance and support packages.

N’Tech grants are funded solely through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF). Nottingham City Council secured RGF from the Government for grants to help fast track development of businesses based in the city. The funding can provide grants of £20,000 to £1million per successful company to support growth and expansion.

The N’Tech fund has so far had 40 successful applications across the digital content, life sciences and clean technology sectors and awarded grants to the value £4.5 million with 845 jobs created and safeguarded. N’Tech closes to applications on 30 September 2014.

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