It’s amazing for us to be privy to all the innovations being investigated by our clients. Creativity, determination and high levels of skill and knowledge are demonstrated by all – regardless of their field. One of the excellent elements of R&D Tax Credits is that companies across all industries can be eligible.

Why are we looking at health innovations?

We are often particularly amazed by new developments within the health sector. Like De Montford University’s senior Mechanical Engineering lecturer, Dr Karthikeyan Kandan recycling plastic bottles into affordable, durable sockets for prosthetic limbs. Or CRUK’s work using 3D Virtual Reality to better understand how cancer cells work, in order to defeat the disease more quickly.

The health industry is also one that touches everyone’s personal experience at some point in their lives. Either personally, or a loved one. It is easier to see how the effect of innovations in this area improve the lives of individual people.

In one of the more interesting 2019 round-ups, Bill Gates lists his most influential innovations of 2019 and four of them are in the health sector.

To see such amazing feats of human endeavour successfully making our lives longer and better is a real beacon of hope. And hope is what we all need as we plunge into a new year and a new decade. Feast your eyes on these amazing innovations.

1. Personalised cancer vaccines

A collaboration between Benentech and BioNTech has led to this remarkable discovery already being in the human trails phase. The process starts with taking a sample from a cancerous tumour, sequencing and analysing the DNA and then producing a bespoke vaccine for that patient. The vaccine enables that body’s immune system to recognise and target only the mutated cancerous cells. This means less damage to their healthy cells. A game changer for those facing chemotherapy and its debilitating side effects.

2. Premature birth prediction

A Stanford bioengineer called Stephen Quake has developed a blood test that can detect the likelihood of a mother giving birth to a premature baby. This is an important discovery because one in ten babies are born prematurely and, globally, it is the main cause of death for children under five. Using the information stored in the mother’s RNA, Quake can see if it shows deviations in the seven factors associated with being born prematurely. This information can be used as an alert to medical staff in their support of the mother during her pregnancy. Just one, cheap blood test for all this information. Quake has started a company called Akna Dx to promote the discovery.

3. Smart watch with an inbuilt ECG

We’re not talking tracking your fitness apps here. But improvements to the technology that enable the user to monitor their own heart health. Any wearable still only has one sensor. An actual ECG machine has 12. It has required a shift in both regulation and technological innovation in order to make this happen. AliveCor has created a band that detects atrial fibrillation – often the cause of strokes and blood clots. Apple have an ECG element within their watches. Both of these received FDA approval in America. Any improvements in the sensitivity of the technology will help people get medical attention quicker and limit any long term damage.

What are we aiming for, long term?

In his introduction, Bill Gates takes a broad, philosophical look at the different motivations behind our medical innovations. Is it about living longer, or living better? He explains:

“If we could look even further out—let’s say the list 20 years from now—I would hope to see technologies that center almost entirely on well-being. I think the brilliant minds of the future will focus on more metaphysical questions: How do we make people happier? How do we create meaningful connections? How do we help everyone live a fulfilling life?”

Jamie Smith