Thousands of people across the world are set to be helped thanks to the innovative nature of a small Worcestershire manufacturer.
Malvern Medical Developments, which is through to the final of the Lord Stafford Awards, is expecting its “Oracol Plus” product to revolutionise the way deadly viruses and infections are identified.
Considerable time and investment has been channelled into the further development of its disposable saliva collection device so that the process is now quicker, more effective and, importantly, free from the risk of possible contamination that has been so prevalent in the past.
This means that diseases as diverse as measles, H.I.V. and Ebola can be identified quickly and treatment speeded up, potentially saving thousands of lives in the process.
Peter Broadbent, Managing Director, provided the insight:
“’Oracol’ has been in operation since 1990 and is used the world over by medical organisations, such as the UK Virus Reference Laboratory, public health laboratories, pharmaceutical manufacturers, Universities and the World Health Organisation.
“The extraction and collection of saliva for medical testing currently uses too many operations and runs a risk of contamination. What we have tried to do is take out the parts that may contaminate the saliva sample and possibly create aerosols. This has involved a complete redesign of both the swab and container.”
He continued: “In essence, we now have a product that is easy and safe to use and, thanks to the redesigned break off feature of the handle, gives the laboratory a safe sample to manage.”
Malvern Medical has tapped into the 3D product design and prototyping expertise of the University of Wolverhampton, the Polymer Cluster Project and Rapra to ensure that ‘Oracol Plus’ is smaller and uses the most effective materials possible.
The support has also been invaluable in sourcing partners to work with and in demonstrating the commercial viability of the product.
Peter, who started the company in 1988, continued:
“Following the advice, we have committed to injection moulding tooling and are currently testing the device in readiness for approval and market launch.
“The potential is huge as it can be used worldwide in so many areas, from testing laboratories to doctor’s surgeries and field medical work, where speed of action is so important.
“Initially, we are looking at sales of approximately 150,000 devices and have taken on two additional staff to move the project forward. After that significant growth is expected.”
The success of ‘Oracol Plus’ has the potential to have an impact on several Midlands manufacturing companies, which have added their expertise to the development and production of the product.
Malvern Medical, which has recently commissioned a second cleanroom at its Worcester site, has no plans to move work outside of the domestic marketplace and fully expects to increase its workforce as the product enters new markets.
Lord Stafford, Patron of the Awards, concluded: “It is fantastic that local industry and academia has worked together to create a device that could save thousands, maybe even millions of lives, across the world.
“By using the resources and knowledge of the University of Wolverhampton, the Polymer Cluster and Rapra, Malvern has been able to progress its innovative thinking a lot quicker than expected and is now in a position to share its success with other companies in the region.”
2007 marks the ten year anniversary of the Lord Stafford Awards, which showcases West Midlands companies who have worked with universities and innovation programmes to develop new products and processes.
Held at the NEC on November 15th, it will form the showpiece of Advantage West Midlands’ first ever Festival of Innovation and will honour companies and individuals in four categories, including ‘Impact through Innovation’, ‘Achievement in Innovation’, ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ and ‘Knowledge Transfer Champion’.