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25 October 2012

University of Ulster/USA alliance facilitates pioneering medical technologies research and business innovation

A groundbreaking strategic alliance has been forged between researchers at the University of Ulster and the University of Massachusetts Lowell to bring pioneering medical research technologies faster into the marketplace.

Under a transatlantic research and business innovation agreement, the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center at UMass Lowell and the Multi-disciplinary Technology Centre for Healthcare (MATCH) at Ulster will undertake research collaboration in areas of mutual interest.

Professor Brian J Meenan, Director of MATCH at Ulster, explained: "This partnership provides a major opportunity to undertake internationally leading research that will result in safe and effective medical device technologies reaching patients at the earliest opportunity.

"The processes required to get a new medical device to the patient while ensuring its safety and effectiveness can take a very long time and often require a lot of money.

"By providing industry with the right tools to evaluate the benefits that new technologies can bring to medical diagnosis or treatment at the earliest stages of their product development processes, we can significantly cut the time to market."

The agreement was signed at a ceremony in the prestigious surroundings of the Massachusetts State House, Boston, as part of a two-day, EU-US eHealth Marketplace event.

The signing was attended by the UMass Lowell Chancellor, Martin T Meehan and a University of Ulster delegation led by Professor James McLaughlin.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell has considerable expertise and ambitious growth plans in the areas of Medical Device Technologies. This profile and vision aligns extremely well with the profile and vision of the University of Ulster which has been taking a lead role in the field of Connected Health in Northern Ireland.

Ulster and UMass Lowell are particularly concerned with, and focused on, the development of very strong linkages and interactions with their local and regional medical technology industrial clusters as well as innovation and the commercialisation of university-based research in terms of licensing and start-up formation for the further development of these industrial clusters.

Both institutions are also involved in internationally recognised medical technology research and development.

Professor Meenan added: "The research undertaken in this collaboration will ensure that the most beneficial technologies are available to improve the lives of people with chronic long-term conditions and to help them to retain their independence."

Stephen McCarthy, co-director of Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) and a Professor of Plastics Engineering at UMass Lowell said: "Fostering international relationships with key allies is critical in positioning Massachusetts at the forefront of cutting edge scientific research and business development.

"We are looking forward to exciting times ahead and the opportunities afforded by working with the University of Ulster."

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan added: "This agreement between UMass Lowell and the University of Ulster represents a tremendous step forward for the global medical device industry, bringing experts on both sides of the Atlantic together to benefit both the United States and Northern Ireland."

A key element of the interdisciplinary research to be undertaken as part of the alliance is reflected in the participation of the College of Management and College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at UMass Lowell and key staff from the Ulster Business School who are part of the MATCH Programme at Ulster.

These groups will work closely in the areas of entrepreneurship and networking, particularly within the field of medical device technologies.

The partners intend that this will not be solely a university research project but rather will hold a number of joint seminars and workshops at both Ulster and UMass Lowell that will specifically engage with the business and clinical communities.

These events will be used to disseminate the research conducted in both institutes in the areas of entrepreneurship, networks, incubators, regional development, public policy and law relevant to the medical device technology sector.

The resulting international comparisons that will be made across Massachusetts and Northern Ireland and the associated exchange of information and learning will add significant value to both regions.

Professor Brian J Meenan is available for interview.

CAPTIONS: Signing the medical device technologies and business innovation agreement between the University of Ulster and University of Massachusetts LowellSigning the medical device technologies and business innovation agreement between the University of Ulster and University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA in Massachusetts State House, Boston, are: Dr Michael Brennan, Ulster Business School (left) and Professor Martin T Meehan, UMass Lowell Chancellor. Looking on are: (back row L – R) Professor James McLaughlin, University of Ulster; Health Minister Edwin Poots; Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray and UMass Lowell Professor Stephen McCarthy, co-director of M2D2.

Brian Meenan, Professor of Biomedical Materials at the University of Ulster Engineering Research Institute

Notes for editors:

The Multi-disciplinary Technology Centre for Healthcare (MATCH) is situated within the Nanotechnology & Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC) at the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster.

The MATCH Programme is a major UK-based collaborative project funded by the UK Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and affiliate member subscriptions. MATCH undertakes Health Technology Assessment (HTA) research to evaluate new and emerging technologies for medical devices in terms of their benefits in providing positive clinical and health economic outcomes.

MATCH supports the healthcare technology sector and its user communities by creating methods to assess value from concept through to mature product and by engaging with regulatory bodies at home and abroad. This is of vital importance to informing National Health Service (NHS) procurement bodies in making decisions, which subsequently impacts on medical device application implementation and adoption.

Through the translation of its research MATCH is delivering methods and tools to support companies across the UK healthcare technology sector to bring better products to market more quickly and less expensively. As a consequence, healthcare providers are able to adopt products with confidence more rapidly.

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu

Media enquiries:
Audrey Watson
Media & Corporate Relations
University of Ulster
Tel: 028 90366386
E: a.watson1@ulster.ac.uk