UCC licenses innovative device that moves organs during surgery

30 Jan 2017

Snow in the Quad at UCC. Image: Brian Clayton/CC BY-NC 2.0/Flickr

Ireland’s knowledge transfer system is again proving its worth as UCC licenses a surgical medical device to Skellig Surgical. It will be the latter’s first commercial product.

Designed to manipulate organs that obscure and limit the ability to perform keyhole surgery, SecuRetract is UCC’s latest foray into medtech. Through a new licensing agreement, it’s now on the market.

Developed through the work of dozens of surgeons over four years of research, the prize-winning device uses clever engineering to improve the surgical process.

Inflated inside the 5mm surgical incision used in laparoscopic surgery, the device keeps the bowels from obstructing surgeons’ views.

“We are proud to have taken this early idea right through to the realisation of a product,” said Conor O’Shea, co-founder and CEO of Skellig Surgical.

O’Shea, who worked with his PhD supervisor and fellow co-founder, Dr Padraig Cantillon-Murphy, to get the device developed, claims it improves patient safety.

The device – secured through Ireland’s changing knowledge transfer system – comes on the back of a project instigated by two surgeons based at UCC’s teaching hospital.

The clinical utility and design of SecuRetract has been recognised with multiple awards, including the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland David Boucher-Hayes Medal for Innovation in Surgery.

Declan Mahoney, Skellig Surgical; Conor O’Shea, Skellig Surgical; Kevin Dalton, UCC

From left: Declan Mahoney, chairman, Skellig Surgical; Conor O’Shea, CEO, Skellig Surgical; Kevin Dalton, commercialisation manager, UCC. Image: UCC

Earlier this year, it emerged that Ireland’s knowledge transfer system was heading in a new direction, with a fresh injection of €34.5m to handle the third stage of the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative (TTSI).

Aimed at simplifying the process between industry and research, the Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative is beginning a new five-year phase.

TTSI is a 10-year-old Enterprise Ireland programme that financially supports research organisations throughout the country, helping them protect their intellectual property.

The programme provides funding to technology transfer offices that support research institutions, aiding development of the knowledge transfer profession and the work it does. In doing so, the programme claims to act as an accelerator for commercialisation of research that would not otherwise be possible.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) has helped 31 spin-out companies through its activities, though the hundreds of research agreements (748) and licensing agreements (more than 200) is perhaps a better example of its work.

Kevin Dalton, commercialisation manager at UCC, said: “The Tech Transfer Office is delighted to license this technology to Skellig Surgical, who have put a formidable business plan and team in place to bring this product to market.”

Snow in the Quad at UCC image: Brian Clayton/CC BY-NC 2.0/Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic