Open source initiative offers cheaper, rapid development path for medical devices

4 December 2009

A unique medical innovation initiative launched by Cranfield University could shape the way the medical device sector introduces new innovations.

Using an Open Source (OS) product design model, the team aims to develop life saving medical devices faster and at cheaper costs.

Although the OS model — a freely licensed approach to the design, development, and distribution of software — is a relatively well established principle in software innovation, there are few examples of application to tangible products within the medical and healthcare technology sector.

The current model for developing medical products, based on protecting intellectual property, is costly and complex, and difficult for small companies to get involved in, although their input is often invaluable. A major element of this ambitious project, which aims to make life saving and commonly used medical devices widely available to more people, will be the development of an ‘OS demonstrator’ — a £1000 medical scanner for primary care.

Professor Daniel Steenstra, who has been appointed the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Innovation at Cranfield, and will be leading the project, said: “I am obviously very pleased and honoured to have been appointed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Cranfield. I have found an impressive range of expertise and capabilities and most importantly passion for an exciting project such as the £1000 medical scanner. This initiative promises to establish Cranfield’s position as a leader in OS innovation.”

One of the first steps in this project is to establish links with industry and healthcare providers and build a network of stakeholders.

For information on how to get involved, contact Professor Steenstra at Cranfield University:


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