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University and business team tackle bed sores

Posted on August 23rd, 2017

L-R: Mike Hutson, MD at Speed Plastics, Ben Smith and David Terris, Senior Lecturer at DMU
Technology that could prevent millions of people from getting bed sores in hospital has been developed thanks to a partnership between De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and manufacturer Speed Plastics.

Graduate Ben Smith has completed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project to develop cost-effective pressure ulcer relief solutions for poorer countries.

Awarded by Government body Innovate UK, a KTP supports innovation in business and brings together a university and a company to develop new products, processes or services which are seen as having high potential. The outcome is often increased profitability through improved quality and operations, increased sales and access to new markets.

Speed Plastics, of Chesterfield, specialises in high frequency welding of flexible plastics. One of its key products is a pressure-relief mattress range for its sister company Rober.

The two-year KTP looked at ways to reduce the manufacturing costs of Rober’s pressure relief mattresses so it would be suitable for the developing world. It also looked at expanding the product development capabilities within Speed Plastics.

Pressure ulcers are a rising problem and are linked to prolonged hospitalisation, pain, social isolation and in worst cases, death.

In the UK, each pressure ulcer adds an additional £4k on to the overall care costs of a patient, but with the right technology, training and support, 95% of pressure injuries can be prevented.

Speed Plastics and Rober are determined to ensure that its ulcer prevention technologies can be accessed by healthcare providers around the globe, even from the poorest of countries.

Speaking about the programme, Ben said: “The technology developed in Chesterfield has the potential to stop millions of people from getting pressure ulcers as they are cared for in hospital. We want to make sure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to pressure relief equipment and the KTP was the first step in doing this.”

Now the KTP is complete, Ben will be joining the Speed team as Product and Innovation Manager and hopes that he can play a valuable part within the company as it goes from strength to strength.

David Terris, Senior Lecturer in Product Design and Innovation, said: “This KTP project has been a great success. The work undertaken by Ben for Speed Plastics is of real social significance and will have a big impact on medical provision in emerging markets.

“The KTP scheme has provided excellent training and support to Ben, accelerating his transition from recent graduate to highly valued member of the Speed Plastics team.”