North Yorkshire Electronic Design Firm Receives Half a Million Pounds Funding to Further Develop New Technology

Knaresborough electronics design company, GSPK Design Ltd have taken a huge step forward with developing a new product to aide those with severe disabilities.

The £500,000 phase two funding development contract was awarded to GSPK Design after impressive results from the initial phase one process. The work was commissioned and funded by the SBRI Healthcare programme. SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England initiative, championed by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). GSPK Design in partnership with The Assistive Technology Team at Barnsley Hospital, The Centre for Assistive Technology & Connected Healthcare at the University of Sheffield and the NIHR Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative (D4D), will build on work from phase one and further develop a unique wireless smart switch to help people who have acute brain injury or severe disabilities using tiny electrical signals produced by muscles (electromyography, EMG) to engage with their environment.

Out of 14 companies from the initial phase one funding, GSPK Design were one of the 6 that were successful in phase two funding. GSPK Design demonstrated having the best value and greatest technical feasibility to a panel of experts in the medical sector who were looking for innovative technologies that solve unmet needs, provide a potential value to the patients as well as the health service.

“This is a fantastic achievement for GSPK Design, all our effort and collaboration with the various bodies within the NHS over the last few years is now starting to come together,” said Managing Director of GSPK Design, Paul Marsh. “As a company we are in a unique position to be able to offer full product design, manufacture and regulatory support under one roof right here in North Yorkshire. This funding will not only allow us to develop the product to take it through clinical trials and to market, but it will also allow us to implement medical standards into our processes that will not only benefit us, but also our other customers, so I’m not sure which is more exciting, being able to develop our own products within the Medtech field or being able to help other companies develop theirs.”

Senior Clinical Scientist and acting service lead at Barnsley Hospital, Simon Judge said “For 30 years the fundamental way in which people with the most severe disabilities interact with technology has changed little. This project aims to create a ‘wearable’ that allows this group of people to control technology only using the smallest muscle activation. This SBRI funding will allow us to produce a device that aims to be revolutionary. The collaboration demonstrates that world leading technology is again being home grown in Yorkshire and that we are at the centre of Assistive Technology innovation. We are proud and excited to be involved.”

Speaking on behalf of D4D, Commercial Director of Devices for Dignity Ltd, Oliver Wells said “Supported by the NHS SBRI scheme, the D4D team including colleagues from Barnsley Hospital and led by GSPK Design have pooled our complementary skills –clinical insight and understanding patient needs; electronic design and manufacturing; regulatory know-how and international marketing to solve this problem. Together, this team produced a successful demonstrator system in 6 months, and we are now well on the way to get a new product to a point where it can be used by people within the next 18 months, giving them an opportunity to regain control over their lives.”

The current phase of the project is set to take twelve months at which point GSPK Design will start to sell the product on the market.