£5m shot in the arm for Surgical

Graham Bowland
Graham Bowland
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Keyhole surgery specialist Surgical Innovations has won a £5m grant from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to develop a state-of-the art research and development facility and clinical training centre in Leeds.

When the site opens within the next two years it will create over 300 jobs in the Leeds City region.

Surgical has whittled the location for the new advanced medical park down to two sites – Logic Leeds, a 100-acre site close to Junction 45 of the M1, and Leeds Valley Park, which is south east of Leeds city centre and bounded by the M1 and M621 motorways.

Analysts believe Logic Leeds will win the prestigious award as it is within the Aire Valley Leeds Enterprise Zone.

Surgical would be the anchor tenant in a designated medical hub on the site, which is a greenfield site near Temple Newsam.

As part of the agreement Surgical will commit to £8.7m in capital investment by the end of 2015.

Analysts said Surgical has achieved a very high percentage of Government funding. Typically the Government will lend one sixth of the amount of money that a company puts up. In Surgical’s case it is lending over a half.

Graham Bowland, Surgical Innovations’ chief executive, said: “This money will help fund the next stage of our journey. In 2008 we moved from 10,000 sq ft to 32,000 sq ft. The move to 90,000 sq ft will be another step change for the company.”

Surgical has plans to put a simulated operating theatre on the site and will be applying for a cadaver licence to allow it to operate on body parts.

“I want to get surgeons from around the world coming to Leeds,” said Mr Bowland.

“We’re also linking up with the university and the hospital. We’re an expanding healthcare region.”

The medical park will be a centre for research and development and training.

“We want to become a medical company not an industrial company. We’re going to up the ante,” said Mr Bowland.

The Regional Growth Fund supports projects that use private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.

Its aim is to help areas and communities that are currently dependent on the public sector and switch them over to private sector-led growth and prosperity.

Surgical said the grant will allow it to create a clinical training centre where it can develop the relationships it has with leading clinicians, both UK and international.

It also hopes it will act as a magnet for pioneering surgeons looking to develop new skills and instrumentation in minimal invasive surgery.

The group hopes to move in before 2015.

“We expect to be cutting soil this summer,” said Mr Bowland. “Within another one and a half to two years we’ll be in.”

The group currently employs 120 staff at its 32,000 sq ft facility in Leeds.

Surgical recently launched a new range of hip surgery devices and anticipates strong demand from patients who want to avoid hip replacement surgery.

The company has developed new tools that can shave spurs and debris from the hip joint, prolonging its life and avoiding a full-blown replacement.

Mr Bowland said that this kind of minimally invasive surgery was pioneered on athletes and, while the market is starting from a very low base, it has huge potential.

In the future the company plans to focus on its higher margin SI branded business rather than lower margin work for other manufacturers.

The plan is to switch the focus from 70 per cent sales from the SI brand and 30 per cent from OEMs to 80 per cent sales from the SI brand and 20 per cent from OEMs.