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MacRobert shortlist highlights healthcare tech








Healthcare and lifestyle innovations make up the shortlist for this year’s MacRobert Award, announced this week by the Royal Academy of Engineering.


Creo Medical, DnaNudge and PragmatIC Semiconductor are the three companies vying for the prestigious prize, which has become a benchmark for UK engineering prowess across all sectors since it was founded by the RAEng in 1969. As well as the MacRobert Award Gold Medal, the top team will receive a cash prize of £50,000 when the winner is revealed in July.

The shortlisted finalistes for the 2021 MacRobert Award are:

  • Creo Medical for its healthcare innovation in developing advanced miniaturised surgical tools that uniquely integrate radio frequency and high frequency microwave energy for highly targeted, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, dramatically improving patient outcomes for cancer care, while minimising the need for traditional surgical interventions, moving treatment out of the operating room. The tools promise to transform clinical outcomes for patients, reducing recovery times and avoiding the risks of open surgery. The new technology enables cost savings of up to £10,000 per procedure in NHS Hospitals, a 50 per cent saving on traditional surgery.
  • DnaNudge for its pioneering genetic testing technology that enables consumers to shop more healthily – nudged by their DNA plus lifestyle. Following a simple cheek swab, DnaNudge’s NudgeBox analyser maps the user’s genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. Customers can then use their wearable DnaBand and mobile app to scan products while they shop and be guided by their DNA towards healthier choices. The technology has been rapidly adapted into a gold-standard, 90-minute lab-free RT-PCR test for COVID-19 and is now in use in NHS hospitals, care homes, and supporting the return of the arts sector.
  • PragmatIC Semiconductor for its electronic engineering innovation that takes the silicon out of silicon chips, resulting in ultra-low-cost thin and flexible integrated circuits. These can be inexpensively embedded in everyday objects from food and drink packaging to medical consumables, a crucial step in achieving the Internet of Things and addressing a range of application sectors including the circular economy and digital healthcare. The technology reduces manufacturing cycle time from months to less than a day, allowing agile “just in time” production of microchips, avoiding the risks and waste of global supply chains. In addition, traditional silicon chip fabrication methods have enormous carbon and water footprints, while the PragmatIC approach reduces this by more than 100-fold.
  • “After such a year it is no surprise to find medical engineering strongly represented across the finalists for this year’s MacRobert Award for engineering innovation,” said Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel. “As we look to build back better for the future, the inspiring achievements of our finalists offer the potential for all of us to have more control over our health and lifestyle.

    “These three companies represent the very best of engineering innovation, offering new ways to apply leading edge technologies in our daily lives. Whether using our own genetics to guide us on making healthier food choices through DnaNudge, reaping the benefits of products connected seamlessly thanks to PragmatIC’s flexible electronics or receiving more precise cancer treatment developed by Creo Medical, these developments offer huge potential advantages for the future.”



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