When October saw Chepstow-based Creo Medical win the ‘Tech for Healthcare & Wellbeing Award’ at the Wales Technology Awards and achieve the coveted No. 1 spot in the Welsh Fast Growth 50, it was yet another milestone on a road that is revolutionising surgery worldwide.
The Creo Medical journey began in earnest in 2016 but needs to be put into the context of the last half century, which has seen the surgical world evolve rapidly from ‘Open Surgery’, to a point in 2010 where keyhole/laparoscopic surgery became the standard of care.
The past decade has seen a further paradigm shift, with Creo Medical at the forefront of a new era of healthcare – that of therapeutic endoscopy – a minimally-invasive alternative to surgery utilising natural orifices to access the body, to which Creo are bringing all the benefits of advanced energy currently available through keyhole/laparoscopic surgery.
9,260% growth driven by intelligent technology
The company’s pioneering advanced energy products, which use advanced bipolar radiofrequency and microwave energy, are giving healthcare professionals access to advanced technology and techniques, and providing hospitals worldwide with optimal patient pathways, delivering maximum efficiency.
How does that work in practice? As an example, it means that a patient with a lesion in the colon – which would have previously required surgery, a lengthy stay in hospital, follow ups, a possible colostomy bag and all the risks associated with surgery – can now curatively be taken out endoscopically, allowing the patient to leave hospital within 24 hours, and no follow-ups required.
Such a revolution in patient outcomes has been noted internationally and here in the UK, with Fast Growth 50 recognising the company’s phenomenal 9,260% growth between 2019 and 2021 – and we spoke with Professor Chris Hancock, founder and CTO of Creo Medical, to find out more about their technology, future growth and their mission to improve the lives of patients the world over …
Pushing boundaries through devices the size of a grain of rice
“Creo Medical is harnessing the latest advances in Microwave and Radiofrequency technologies, bringing the most innovative thinking and specialist skill sets to improved patient care”, says Professor Hancock.
“We have a world-leading suite of electrosurgical medical devices being optimised by experts in their field – pushing the boundaries of science and engineering, to revolutionise the way patients are treated.
“Packing the optimal capability, functionality and effectiveness into devices the size of a grain of rice is not easy, but we are doing it – and we’re excited about the many other innovations being pursued by our R&D and engineering departments.
“Our devices have now been used to treat indications in the colon, the pancreas, the liver and elsewhere – in many cases treating what turned out to be cancerous lesions, which is naturally a source of great pride for me and the company.”
Clever components created by the latest advances - and 500 years of know-how …
“Our CROMA generator and associated miniature flexible instruments bring together the latest advances in material science, semiconductor microwave power, high voltage fast switching RF transistors, low loss microwave transmission lines – and over 500 years of know-how from our engineering team – all working harmoniously to create exceptional outcomes.
“Take our antennas and amplifiers as an example. They’re manufactured uniquely and specifically by ABER Electronics, who are now part of the Creo Medical umbrella, and already being used in everything from Formula One transmission to James Bond productions – a real cutting-edge product in its own right.”
Hand-picked talent, working in world-leading collaborations
“The Creo team is a blend of some of the most respected engineering talent in the UK.
“From Global telecommunications specialists, experts in military antenna and leaders in RADAR design, through to signal processing specialists and young microwave- focused PhD students – the brilliance of our team means that clever components can be translated into devices that are at the forefront of a new wave of treatment.
“This approach is further enhanced by our collaboration with some of the most respected clinicians and key opinion leaders in the world – talented physicians who are passionate about delivering the best possible outcomes for their patients and who support Creo Medical across all aspects of product development, uptake, training and evaluation.
“These collaborations are a key part of ensuring that the products coming to market are optimised for clinical use and patient outcomes. The fact that our partner collaborators are excited by what we are delivering – and what’s around the corner – speaks volumes, and is testament to the work of the whole team.
“Having expanded the business, we can now also rely on a wide range of expertise – from manufacturing to marketing – and it’s clear that we now have the right talent in the right places to turn this technology into an attractive, all-round package for the user.
“It’s all very exciting – especially as I can well remember this as an idea which started life in a garage all those years ago!”
Wide-ranging patenting and intellectual property
“Our wide-ranging patenting strategy is now also paying dividends. We’re still the only company in the world providing the technology which is able to treat patients in the way ours do – and our IP has seen further validation from global robotic surgery giants Intuitive Surgical and CMR Surgical – who we are delighted to have partnered with through our Kamaptive Licensing Partnership programme, introduced during 2022.
“By collaborating with partners to introduce and integrate our technology into areas such as robotics and laparoscopy, we have the potential to extend greater patient outcomes to additional fields of medicine – and that’s why we’re continually looking to engage with commercial and research partners, to pair the most controlled and intelligent surgical energy delivery with leading technology, for the benefit of the patient.”
A unique platform bringing global reach
The Creo Medical suite of devices enabled by its CROMA platform and powered by Kamaptive Technology give clinicians increased flexibility and precision, to perform more controlled surgeries. It means the company now has over 4,800 customers being served by a 300 strong team in 14 offices worldwide. So, how has Creo Medical evolved so quickly from an IPO in 2016, to be at the very forefront of this healthcare revolution?
Professor Hancock explains:
“After a handful of years in R&D – optimising the devices, getting them to market and rolling-out into clinical use through a distribution network in 2018 and 2019 – we really accelerated in 2020, through acquisition of Albyn Medical and Boucart Medical, two companies with an already established medical device distribution network in Europe. That pair of acquisitions coincided with two further big developments: the opening of our US HQ in Danbury – and the emergence of the COVID pandemic.
“COVID was difficult for the entire sector, but all of these factors led to an increase in the rate of the global commercialisation of our devices post-pandemic. The past year has seen the number of clinicians and procedures grow significantly alongside the rapid expansion of our Pioneer clinician education programme– which gives Creo the in-house capability to provide simultaneous multijurisdictional training, and allows us to meet the clinical demand for our devices.”
A partnering approach strengthening a growing commercial footprint
Creo Medical’s partnering and collaborative ethos has considerably widened the potential pool of clinicians able to benefit from the unique Kamaptive advanced energy technology – and already generated the first revenues from Kamaptive licensing programme. This only adds further credence to Creo’s successful international approach, strengthening the competitive advantage of their technology and validating that what they have is truly pioneering. So what does Professor Hancock expect 2023 and beyond to bring?
“The year ahead will see us continue to strengthen our commercial footprint” says Professor Hancock. “We opened our Singapore regional hub during 2022, giving us a direct sales and marketing presence in AsiaPac, with our industry-leading Pioneer training programme recently training clinicians in Hong Kong, Bangkok and beyond.
“The US, where we now also have a regional hub in Danbury, and where our expanded US sales channel will help support the take up of Creo devices we are seeing there, is another exciting market for us going forward.
“I’m also heartened by microwave ablation becoming more commonplace in the mix of treatments for cancers. The risks associated with percutaneous treatment in areas such as treatment in the lung – where there are well-established risks of hemothorax and pneumothorax – further validates the potential for our focused, advanced energy technology which we are very excited about seeing the results for.
“Our company motto – ‘Anything is possible with the right approach’ – is really beginning to translate into transforming lives across the globe. And we are only getting started.”
CCR’s 2020 loan of £2M to Creo Medical is clearly paying dividends for everyone concerned – including patients across many continents – so look out for our future features on this astonishing team changing the shape of surgery globally, from their world leading base in Chepstow.