Inovus Medical wins Bridges Positive Impact Award 2021

This year, the Bridges Positive Impact Award – our category at the Growing Business Awards, intended to recognise growth businesses that are having a positive impact on people or the planet – was awarded to Inovus Medical. Bridges’ Kyle Bentwood discusses why the pioneering healthcare business stood out.

Back in 2012, when Elliot Street and Jordan Van Flute were still at university together, they came up with a device that could help surgeons practice from the unforgiving glare of an operating theatre.

Traditionally, surgeons have had to develop their skills on real patients or cadavers – which makes it difficult to accumulate the hours of training required to master these often-complex techniques. By making surgical training more accessible, flexible and affordable, Street and Van Flute figured they could improve health outcomes for patients and reduce costs for the NHS.

This insight inspired the pair to launch Inovus Medical, a pioneering designer and manufacturer of surgical training technologies based in St Helens, Lancashire. That device they designed in their university bedrooms evolved to become the world’s first ‘take home’ surgical simulator, and it has helped Inovus enjoy strong growth. In the last two years revenues have quadrupled; the business now supplies over 60% of UK NHS Trusts, and ships its products to over 70 countries, including developing nations such as Palestine and Yemen. It estimates that the efficiencies generated by its training can save healthcare systems over £115m a year, while also enabling trainee surgeons to build skills and confidence sustainably – resulting in better surgical outcomes for patients.

All of which makes Inovus a very worthy winner of this year’s Bridges Positive Impact Award. Our award celebrates businesses that have identified a growth opportunity by solving a particular challenge or driving meaningful positive change for people or the planet. The commercial success of this year’s shortlist across a range of sectors – from digital health wearables to ethically sourced bedding to recycling, disposal and waste management solutions, to compostable food packaging – is testament to this potential.

At Bridges, we also believe a business that builds stronger ties with all its stakeholders – including its employees and the local community – will be better placed to succeed over time.

Again, Inovus is a great example of that. As well as serving its global clients and end users, the company is very conscious of its impact on its local community: it really focuses on fostering local talent, around 70% of whom are drawn from underserved areas in the Liverpool City Region (LCR). It has created its own career development continuum, supporting talented young job seekers in the LCR to enter the business, and then training them up to ensure long-term development and progression. 45% of its supply chain also comes from underserved areas across the UK.

Dr Elliot Street, co-founder and CEO at Inovus Medical, says this sense of purpose has been a real boon for the business in terms of recruiting and engaging staff: “Having a positive impact as a business is one of the major reasons we have been able to attract and retain incredible talent. The more talent we attract, the more impact we are able to make with our products. Being awarded the Bridges Positive Impact Award gives us all at Inovus an important external validation of the impact we are having and has galvanised our mission to improve surgical care globally. The award comes at an important time for the business as we start a major global expansion with a focus on building a commercial operation across North America and Europe.”

Panel judge Stephen Boobyer, co-founder of market-leading circular economy business World of Books Group (one of Bridges’ portfolio companies) was impressed by Inovus’ commitment to using business as a force for good. “Positive impact is at the heart of Inovus’ core values of affordable, accessible and functional technologies: the judges were very impressed by its simulator range, and its UK design, manufacturing, and local talent sourcing. Inovus has an inspiring leader and a very exciting future ahead, with significant growth opportunities in the UK and worldwide.”

We’re very much looking forward to watching Inovus Medical continue to grow and achieve positive impact – by training up great local talent, and then by pioneering new solutions that make surgical training more accessible and affordable – in a way that could literally save lives.  Congratulations!