An industry association has been launched to help attract new investment to Scotland’s rapidly-growing health technology sector and boost innovation for patients.

London-based Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) – which describes itself as the “voice of the industry” – today announced the creation of ABHI Scotland as it seeks to support the work of health-tech innovators north of the border.

The move, which will see the formation of a dedicated operation in Edinburgh, builds on several years of work with companies and universities in Scotland to support and represent ABHI members and the wider healthtech community.

Mark Cook, chair of ABHI Scotland, who was this year appointed co-chair of the Scottish Government Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group, said: “Scotland has its own routes for healthtech adoption by the NHS here, alongside distinct attributes that can support the development and diffusion of technologies.

“Scotland’s integrated approach to data, combined with its world-class university and research sector, provides a compelling offer for both export and inward investment.

“ABHI Scotland is a natural next step to build on our work here in Scotland and help us work ever closer with the huge variety of teams developing and supplying everything from camera pills, diagnostic tests and artificial hands to techniques that kill tumours from within for patients here and across the globe.”

Business minister Ivan McKee said: “Healthtech is a strategically important part of our life sciences sector which allows us, as a nation, to focus on addressing the world’s biggest health challenges through data-driven health solutions, innovation, design and manufacture.

“As well as global players who have chosen Scotland as a base, our home-grown companies and university-spin out companies employ over 41,000 highly skilled people in our Life Sciences sector.”

Recent figures showed also that investment in Scotland’s smaller life sciences companies reached £61 million during the first nine months of 2021 – 42 per cent higher than the figure for the whole of 2020 (£43 million).

Mr McKee added: “I look forward to continuing to work with ABHI through this new Scottish group, to realise our shared ambition that patients here and across the world will benefit wherever and whenever they can from healthcare innovations.”

ABHI has signed a memorandum of understanding to work closely with Strathclyde University’s Institute of Medical Devices Centre of Excellence.

The institute’s director, Professor Trish Connolly, who also sits on the board of ABHI, says Scotland benefits from close working between the healthtech sector and academia.

She said: “The strength of this collaboration enables companies to accelerate the creation, development and delivery of products to market both here and abroad.

“The team I work with at the University of Strathclyde understand the needs of the medical devices industry and clinicians and we have a dedicated HealthTech Cluster (HTC) to support our industry-facing research. The HTC allows us to support HealthTech companies of all sizes to make sure they do the right research in the right settings and in the right way to allow them to gain both regulatory approval and the trust of healthcare professionals who will take their solutions to patients.

“Our framework agreements with the NHS (NHS Lanarkshire and the NHS Golden Jubilee University Hospital) allow us to complete the triple helix of industry-academe-NHS to provide the best research environment for healthtech research.”

Peter Ellingworth, ABHI chief executive, said: “ABHI is already the leading trade association for Scottish HealthTech businesses with knowledge of Scotland’s healthcare landscape and deep connections with the NHS and Scottish and UK Governments, which has allowed us to bring the voice of HealthTech innovators and suppliers to inform both health and economic policies.

“The creation of ABHI Scotland will allow us to concentrate on continuing to raise awareness of our sector, offer something more to our members in Scotland and help fill a gap for companies in Scotland who felt we weren’t previously for them.”