Pictured above: Barrie Hayles-Gill, Chief Researcher at Monica, with the Monica AN24
New technology developed by a Nottingham Doctor could help save the lives of thousands of unborn babies across the world.
Dr Carl Barratt and his team have spent more than fifteen years developing the Monica AN24, a new fetal heart monitoring device that uses highly sensitive electronics to provide constant monitoring of the heartbeat.
The innovation, which has been supported by the University of Nottingham, is a major advancement on the traditional Doppler Ultrasound technique, as it moves on from ‘snap shot monitoring’, is completely passive on the foetus and its light weight and compact design means the ‘mums to be’ can carry on with their everyday activities.
It marks what has been a breakthrough year for Monica Healthcare, with hundreds of devices sold across 21 countries and the potential to win a Lord Stafford Award after the Bio City-based company made it through to the final four of the ‘Innovation in Achievement’ category.
“Any product that can help save lives of unborn babies is going to have worldwide appeal and this is what we are finding with new distribution agreements in place across Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the gulf,” explained Carl.
“All previous attempts by research centres throughout the world have failed to isolate the extremely small fetal heartbeat from the maternal heartbeat and this is where our product comes into its own.”
He continued: “Monica uses three channel electrode placement and unique signature technology to cut out all the other electrical noise, leaving it free to correctly identify the heartbeat of the baby no matter where it moves.
“This, combined with the compact design, basically allows hospitals, midwives and doctors to constantly monitor the heartbeat no matter where the mum is through the latest bluetooth technology.
“In terms of global impact, we could be looking at a device that offers enormous benefits to ‘at risk’ pregnancies – expected to be more than 5 million across the world each year.”
Monica Healthcare was formed after spinning out of a research project at the University of Nottingham and currently employs 10 full-time staff.
The action plan for the next year is three fold; to secure more long-term contracts with the NHS, to complete stringent FDA trials in the US and to look at other development opportunities whereby the device could be sold in a consumer arena.
“Getting through to the finals of the Lord Stafford Awards is a massive achievement for our business and will help add credibility to what we are trying to achieve,” explained Carl.
“The University has benefited by being able to see a company take a piece of its research and apply it to one of the most demanding commercial fields imaginable. This has provided excellent publicity and generated commercial knowledge that will be channelled back into teaching future students.”
He concluded: “We have a pipeline agreement on future products and a licensing arrangement on new intellectual property, which could combine to provide a valuable finance stream for the University.”
Backed by the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), MAS East Midlands, the East Midlands Universities Association and Lincolnshire County Council, the Lord Stafford Awards are designed to celebrate and recognise innovative collaborations between business and universities.
The winners of the awards, which cover ‘Innovation Achieved’, ‘Innovation in Development’ and ‘Innovation in Sustainability’, will be announced at a high-profile finale on September 10th at the Epic Centre in Lincolnshire.
Other sponsors for the event include CFE Ltd, Clever Cherry, Ceramic Decals, Enterprise Europe Network and Swindell and Pearson.