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Medical Technology

The UK is the third largest market for medical technology in Europe, worth a staggering £7.6 billion. There are nearly 3,700 companies in the medical technology sector; 98% of them are small to medium-sized enterprises.

The sector generates a turnover of 21 billion GBP and produces a vast range of medical devices and diagnostic technologies.

The fastest growing segments of the UK industry by revenue are:


  • medical imaging, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%
  • in vitro diagnostics (CAGR 7%)
  • drug delivery (CAGR 7%)


The fastest growing segments by employment are:


  • digital health (CAGR 28%)
  • drug delivery (CAGR 23%)
  • single use technology (CAGR 19%)

The UK medical technology sector is a thriving ecosystem of researchers, scientists, engineers, designers and NHS clinicians working in an established industrial base. Together they drive the path of a novel technology from innovation, through the process of design and manufacture, and ultimately to the patient.


There is a significant focus on single use technology, orthopaedic devices and in vitro diagnostics. The service and supply chain for medical technologies provides essential support including design, manufacturing and regulatory expertise.


A large number of world-renowned drugs and delivery technology companies have a presence in the Thames Valley. For companies working with drugs and delivery technologies, access to markets is crucial. The region is an excellent enabler, with close proximity to both local and international markets.



A global leader in the glucose monitoring market, Abbott Diabetes Care grew out of the acquisition of the Oxford University spin-out company, Medisense. Abbott Diabetes now produces over 2 billion glucose test strips annually at its production facility in Witney, Oxfordshire.


Nanopore Technologies, another Oxford University spin-out, has developed the world’s first and only nanopore DNA sequencer, the MinION. This product is designed to bring easy biological analyses to anyone, whether in scientific research, education or a range of real-world applications such as disease/pathogen surveillance, environmental monitoring, food-chain surveillance, self-quantification or even microgravity biology. The company aims to become the world’s leading producer of equipment to decode the DNA of any organism, from people to viruses and in applications from medical diagnosis to food safety.


A third Oxford University spin-out company, Caristo Diagnostics, has recently been launched to commercialise a new coronary CT image analysis technology which would allow the early identification of those who are at risk of having a fatal heart attack, years before one occurs.


Johnson & Johnson’s Lifescan, one of the leading manufacturers of blood glucose monitoring systems throughout the world, also has a base in the region (Buckinghamshire).


Medical Devices


The region is also the chosen location for many medical device companies with operations across the range of R&D, sales and service and manufacturing.


Owen Mumford, for example, is a global industry leader in medical device design and manufacturing, specialising in self-injection and blood sampling devices. Headquartered in Woodstock, Oxfordshire and employing over 500 people, the company exports over 90% of its products.


Becton Dickinson is a US owned global medical device company which has recently demonstrated its commitment to the Thames Valley by consolidating its Oxford and Basingstoke sites in new premises at Winnersh Triangle, near Reading. The new offices are home to commercial operations for all BD businesses in the UK, as well as support functions, technical services and a new Innovation Centre to host customers.


Digital Health


The UK is at the forefront of transforming healthcare services by using digital solutions to prevent and manage chronic illnesses more effectively, and motivate patients to participate in their own long-term care. This leading position has grown out of a unique environment for collaboration and innovation. Academics and clinicians from world-renowned institutions work with policy makers and dynamic private sector technology companies. In this rapidly developing sector, there are 289 digital health companies, employing 7,405 people and generating approximately £886m turnover. Geographical analysis shows that the South East of England has the highest number of digital health companies in the UK (15% of the UK total), turnover (26%) and employment (20%).


The Thames Valley region has a strong digital health cluster, with particular concentrations of activity around Oxford and Reading. These areas are ideal locations for this sub-sector, since they have a large pool of tech talent, including app developers and data analytics experts.


Oxfordshire has a particularly strong and growing cluster of innovative companies operating in digital health and developing the diverse range of technologies essential to it – such as wireless communications, sensor hardware, signal processing software, mobile internet and Big Data analytics. Patient monitoring technologies are a key focus in the region.


Many of these companies are spin-outs from research laboratories. The Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME) at the University of Oxford, has spun out ten companies in the last seven years and several of these are in the digital health sector.  Such tech-led companies are a key attraction for larger organisations looking for collaborations.


Professor Lionel Taressenko, the first Director of the IBME and now the Head of the Department of Engineering Science, said:


“Oxford is unique in the way that engineers work closely with medical researchers.  Their integrated research teams design clinically-relevant products and software with a positive impact on the delivery of healthcare and patient outcomes.”


The University of Reading, which has a world-class reputation for teaching, research and enterprise, is participating, through its Department of Engineering, in a large interdisciplinary research collaboration to develop the next generation of telecare. This collaboration, known as Sphere (Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment) aims to develop a digital healthcare assistant in the home, with Reading leading on the development of passive sensors.