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About the HTC

What is a Healthcare Technology Co-operative?

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has funded eight Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs) across England. Each HTC acts as a centre of expertise, which will focus on a clinical area of unmet need for NHS patients.

Working collaboratively with industry, each HTC is focused on developing new medical devices, healthcare technologies or technology-dependent interventions, which improve treatment and quality of life for patients.

The aims of the NIHR Healthcare Technology Co-operatives are to:

  • Act as a catalyst for NHS “pull” for the development of new medical devices, healthcare technologies and technology-dependent interventions
  • Focus on clinical areas and/or themes of high morbidity which have high potential for improving quality of life of NHS patients and improving the effectiveness of healthcare services that support them
  • Work collaboratively with patients and patient groups, charities, industry and academics.

The Colorectal Therapies HTC

The centre based in Leeds, is focused on the development of minimally invasive technologies for colorectal disease through development in the following three themes:


The engineering sciences are fundamental to the development of minimally invasive therapies, providing expertise in instrument/device technology, material and surface sciences, imaging, and computer and robotic assistance.


Nanotechnology in medicine is currently a rapidly expanding field with the majority of effort focused on drug delivery, imaging and medical diagnostics.


Biosensing is a fertile yet relatively unexplored area for minimally invasive therapies. The ability to perform inexpensive, real-time, bed-side analysis, whether for diagnostics or therapeutic monitoring, is particularly attractive.

How does the HTC work?


Colorectal Therapies covers treatment for all colorectal diseases not just cancer, however colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, affecting 37,000 people and resulting in 16,000 deaths per annum. The life time risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is 1 in 16 for men and 1 in 18 for women, with recent data documenting an increase in rectal cancer in patients younger than 40 years

Inflammatory bowel disease affects 1 in 250 of the UK population, which is the same as 13,300 new patients per annum. Many are diagnosed in their teens and early twenties, meaning a lifetime of illness. Around half of all patients will require surgery at some time and many will be left with severe functional problems and the need for a colostomy bag.

Diverticular disease (small bulges develop on the lining of the intestine that become inflamed or infected) affects half of the population aged over 65 years. Complications arising from the disease account for 8% of all non cancer-related, gastro-intestinal mortalities in the UK.

The presentation and treatment of colorectal disease is changing. Initiatives such as the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme are hopefully going to shift diagnosis to an earlier stage of cancer and at the same time minimally invasive therapies are increasing in popularity, driven by patient expectation, clinician enthusiasm, and commercial interests.

The benefits of minimally invasive therapy are largely documented and patients recover more quickly from surgery, have reduced hospital stays, and return to normal function and daily life far quicker than in standard surgery.

New technology means that clinicians will soon have the opportunity to tailor future treatments to the needs of individual patients, therefore increasing effectiveness and increasing life expectancy.

Our Strategy

The Colorectal Therapies HTC will bring together, at a national and international level, academics, clinicians, commercial partners, public and patients to address the management of colorectal disease.

It will provide a forum for the development of new ideas, innovations, and research priorities to influence patient care and ease the financial burden of disease on healthcare systems.

How will it work?

The HTC will work across the different sectors (public and private) to engage industry, NHS, scientists, charities, engineers, patients and public in identifying areas within colorectal therapies where development of new technology would be of benefit to patients.

There are four levels in this process:

Level 1: Identification of unmet clinical need

Healthcare professionals – for example surgeons, anaesthetists, ward and theatre nursing staff – public and patient representatives will be invited to identify areas where clinical problems exist. These will be prioritised through the HTC and reviewed for true unmet need with a panel of experts.

Following this, interaction with academics from the 3 themes (engineering, biosensing, and nanotechnology), commercial partners, local health networks and associations will then look at finding solutions to the identified needs.

Unmet clinical needs identified to date:  (click on each for more detail)

Level 2: Concept development

We have access to NHS managers, Clinical Commissioning Group representatives, Public and Patient Representatives, National Associations and Procurement Officers who will be consulted to determine whether an idea is likely to be accepted A small amount of proof of principle testing will be undertaken, to ensure feasibility of novel ideas and to inform concept development and gap analysis.

Level 3: Gap Analysis

At this point, potential obstacles to uptake of developed ideas will be evaluated. Preliminary patent searches will be conducted to filter out those ideas where there is prior art. Novel concepts of potential impact will be subjected to outline heath economics and assessment to get a feel for cost-effectiveness and market potential.

Level 4: Collaborative grant proposals and funding opportunities

Once the principle has been established, the collaborative group developing the concept will be supported to identify appropriate funding sources for full evaluation (eg i4i, EME, HTA) and to develop the grant proposal as needed. Where appropriate, we can involve clinical networks through links to the Research Committees of ACPGB&I and BSG, and the RCS Surgical Centres/Surgical Leads.

Become an associate

Membership is free, all we ask is that you promote the work of the HTC within your own networks, support our events and encourage like-minded colleagues to join.

Apply now