Inovus Medical, set up in St Helens in 2012 by Dr Elliot Street and Jordan Van Flute, now supplies surgical simulators to more than 70 countries and has quadrupled its workforce. Tony McDonough reports
A Merseyside firm that designs and manufactures medical and surgical simulators has seen staff numbers quadruple and global sales surge due to a series of investments.
Inovus Medical, set up in 2012 by Dr Elliot Street and Jordan Van Flute, is now supplying more than 60% of NHS trusts in the UK and is exporting its products to more than 70 countries across the world.
Based in St Helens, Innovus initially received an £80,000 loan from Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) – BFS & MSIF Microfinance in 2017. This was followed by a £500,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance last year.
This has allowed the businesses to significantly scale its team and operations. It has been able to invest in new manufacturing equipment and has created 15 new highly-paid jobs, including a commercial team in order to improve processes and boost sales.
Inovus was set up to create tools designed using augmented reality and additive manufacturing (3D printing) to facilitate and improve teaching and learning within the healthcare industry.
The funding has also helped the firm 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 gynaecology 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. And, in the early days of the pandemic, it switched to producing vital parts for ventilators and face visors for frontline medical staff.
Dr Elliot Street, chief executive of Inovus, 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.”
Following a strong 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.
Dr Street added: “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. With MSIF and Mercia’s help, we have been able to scale up our manufacturing capabilities.”
NPIF is supported financially by the European Union, using funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.