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EarSwitch team

South West firm to benefit from multi-million pound government investment in medical technology

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2024 - 13:19

South West healthtech firm EarSwitch, winner of the Tech South West Innovation Award in 2022, has been named as one of eight companies to benefit from a multi-million pound government investment.

As part of a £10 million funding package for boosting access to medical technology, the companies will be supported to bring their devices to market and help “transform the way we treat some of the biggest causes of death and disability in the UK”, according to the Government.

EarSwitch has produced a device which detects oxygen levels from the inner ear-canal. Oximeters - devices clipped over the end of a fingertip - are used widely at hospitals and at home for this purpose, but research suggests this technology may not accurately detect falling oxygen levels in people with darker skin tones.

By taking readings from the inner ear-canal, which is not pigmented irrespective of the person’s skin colour, EarSwitch’s technology could reduce inequalities in the field of lung health.  According to the UK Government, the Bristol firm’s technology could offer “better quality readings and a more innovative approach to oxygen level monitoring.”

Dr Nick Gompertz, CEO and Director of EarSwitch, told South West Tech Daily: “We’re dedicated to developing a core oximeter that empowers healthcare professionals to take racially inclusive oxygen readings, deliver equitable healthcare, and ultimately save more lives.

"We’re delighted that EarMetrics-Oximetry has been accepted onto the IDAP pilot programme, which we see as recognition of its potential to do this. With the support of IDAP, we intend to accelerate the development and roll-out of our in-ear oximeter and transform how the NHS delivers healthcare to millions of patients.” 

Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “NHS staff need access to the latest technology to deliver the highest quality care for patients and cut waiting lists – one of our top five priorities. 

“These cutting-edge technologies could help thousands of patients with a range of conditions, including cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, while easing pressure on our hospitals and reducing healthcare inequalities.

“Our investment in these pioneering companies is part of our long-term plan for a faster, simpler and fairer health care system, and demonstrates our clear commitment to ensuring the UK is the most innovative economy in the world.”

The funding is part of a new programme called The Innovative Devices Access Pathway (IDAP), which aims to bring state-of-the-art technologies and solutions to the forefront of the NHS. Currently in the pilot stage, the funding will be used to test the new technologies for use on a large scale as quickly as possible.

Other innovations to receive investment from the programme include technology destroy liver cancer tumours, detect Alzheimer’s and quickly spot those at risk of stroke.

Learn more here.

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