Inovus Medical (Inovus), a designer and manufacturer of medical and surgical simulators, has quadrupled headcount and expanded overseas after receiving a series of investments from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
The St Helens-based company was set up in 2012 to create tools designed using augmented reality and additive manufacturing (3D printing) to facilitate and improve teaching and learning within the healthcare industry. Using industry and research-based knowledge, co-founders Dr Elliot Street and Jordan Van Flute are plugging the market gap for increased access to surgical training equipment. They currently supply over [60 per cent] of all NHS trusts.
Inovus initially received a £80,000 loan from NPIF – BFS & MSIF Microfinance in 2017, which was used to scale up the manufacturing function with a new additive manufacturing machine and ready the business for an equity raise. This was followed by a £500,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance last year, which subsequently led the business to drastically scale its team and operations.
The impact of these investments has been wide ranging. As well as bolstering up its manufacturing capabilities, the company has created 15 new high-paid jobs, including a commercial team in order to improve processes and boost sales. It has not only grown its market share in the UK, but also secured customers overseas, with its products shipping to 70 different countries worldwide.
The funding has also helped Inovus launch a new product to market. LapAR, which has been part-funded by the NHS, is the world’s first affordable and accessible high-fidelity laparoscopic simulator. The product allows surgeons to practice a range of procedures across general surgery and gynecology using real feel soft tissue models.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional surgery training has been halted indefinitely due to health and safety risks, which has put a burden on trainees. Inovus has seen a sales spike of at-home virtual surgical training product as a result, and its technology has also been listed as a resource for surgical training following COVID-19 by the American College of Surgeons.
Dr Elliot Street BSc. (Hons) MBChB, CEO at Inovus Medical, said: “Throughout this pandemic, education institutions have had to suspend all practical learning, across all subjects, whilst we maintain social distancing. We believe that products such as our own are the future of learning, and we are delighted that trainee surgeons have been able to continue to learn during this time thanks to simulation technology.”
After a stellar performance in 2020, the company has plans for even further overseas expansion. Having established a distribution partner in Canada, Inovus has a foothold in the sizeable Canadian market and is targeting growth in North America. It is also aiming to penetrate the Asia Pacific market this year.
“Part of this success has been down to the support we have received from NPIF, which has supported us at every step of our growth journey,” Elliot continued “With MSIF and Mercia’s help, we have been able to scale up our manufacturing capabilities and offer an affordable alternative that is accessible to students. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the NPIF team as we aim for further global expansion.”
Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Inovus Medical is a fantastic example of the type of business that is continuously innovating, adapting and investing in the Liverpool City Region and I am delighted to see their ongoing success and expansion plans.
“NPIF and other such funds can help innovative businesses sustain and grow, ultimately creating the opportunities that will drive the recovery of our city region and I would encourage other ambitious businesses to take advantage of the support and funding that is out there.”
Grant Peggie, director at British Business Bank, said: “This is a great example of where NPIF has provided the much-needed investment to support innovation in the North. It is encouraging to see Inovus Medical’s success is not only creating new, highly skilled jobs and moving into new markets, but also transforming the way in which surgeons learn and develop through technology.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union, using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
For more information about Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, please visit www.npif.co.uk.