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21 December, 2014 - 19:06 By Tony Quested

Massive demand for top medical device developers

Tom-Oakley

Cambridge’s reputation as a hotspot for medical device innovation has been ramped up a few extra notches by the progress of young and increasingly powerful consultancy Springboard.

Founded 18 months ago by Tom Oakley, David Foster and Keith Turner, the business is gaining significant global traction.

Tom Oakley explains: “We predicted that medical device and pharma companies would need world-class technical problem-solvers so we put together a skilled team and the demand has been fantastic! 

“We have nearly tripled our team in less than two years and we will be recruiting strongly after the New Year, too.

“We wanted to get an excellent reputation for world-class medical device development and that’s already happened – our main clients are major multinational companies who shop globally.”

Already 60 per cent of the firm’s orders by value are from outside the UK – mostly Western European pharma and medical device companies; 98 per cent of orders by value are from multinationals.

“It shows the power of combining world-class expertise with the infrastructure of the Cambridge cluster,” Oakley said.

Client confidentiality reigns in the world of medical device development so Oakley said he can only reveal tantalising glimpses of the exciting projects underway in Springboard's labs.

These include advanced drug delivery devices that can deliver higher volume injections, or with higher viscosities than currently possible. This is a key enabler for biotech, and therefore most new drugs. In this arena, Springboard handles engineering design, problem investigation and problem solving on such devices. “This has been a major part of our work over the past year,” says Oakley.

Springboard also works on minimally-invasive tools to cure cancer and heart disorders, helping to develop devices and technologies to improve the efficacy and safety of the clinical procedures. 

Oakley explains: “For example, if you are blocking an artery, how can you tell when it is blocked enough without unnecessarily affecting other arteries?”

Another area of strength is devices that are enabling the emerging e-Health boom: Springboard recently mentored a Cambridge Enterprise project for a new fitness diagnostic coming from Cambridge University.

Springboard has managed to make global progress organically. The business is privately funded directly by the three founders who have full ownership.

“Our limit on growth is not funding – the limiter is finding top people. We only recruit the best,” said Oakley.

“Thankfully, we have some advantages that make us attractive to potential employees: we have a clear ethical policy so we only work on projects that really mean a positive benefit to people around the world; our work is naturally exciting because it is cutting-edge; and we invest a lot of time in training and mentoring our staff. 

“These reasons also mean that our people take pride and ownership in their own work, which is exactly what our clients want to see in consultants solving their problems.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Tom Oakley

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