A University of Nottingham spin-out company which has developed a novel technology for monitoring expectant mothers has been acquired by U.S-based GE Healthcare.
Monica Healthcare was spun-out of the University to develop the work of a research group led by Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill and his colleague Professor John Crowe between 1989 and 2002.
Monica Healthcare’s technology enhances obstetric care by the use of wireless fetal monitoring devices enabling an expectant mother to move freely during labour to more comfortable positions — even to be able to take a shower. Monica’s advanced fetal monitors are already used by midwives, labour and delivery nurses, and expectant mothers at over 1,000 sites across Europe, Asia and North America, with more than 100,000 patients benefitting from the technology in the last year.
The company, which now employs 20 people in Nottingham, was established by Professor Hayes-Gill with two of his researchers Dr Carl Barratt, now CEO of the company, and Dr Jean-Francois Pieri, Monica’s CTO. Professor Hayes-Gill has worked part-time as director of research for Monica Healthcare since its creation in 2005 as part of the management team and as an executive director on the board.
Since 2015, GE Healthcare has been Monica’s exclusive North American distribution partner for the Novii Wireless Patch System — a single-patient use patch that effectively monitors maternal heart rate, fetal heart rate, and uterine activity, even on the patients who are difficult to monitor using the existing ultrasound technology. The Novii patch communicates through Bluetooth wirelessly to the fetal monitor, providing patients with greater mobility in labour.
Tammy Noll, general manager of GE Healthcare’s maternal-infant care division, said: “At GE Healthcare, we are committed to improving the health care experience across care areas, including childbirth. Through this acquisition, we will combine the incredible expertise and mobile-digital innovation from the Monica team with GE’s longstanding industry leadership and customer focus — all with the goal of bettering maternal and infant care for patients worldwide”.
GE Healthcare has a turnover of $14.85 billion and employs over 46,000 staff worldwide.
Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill said: “Joining GE Healthcare provides a fantastic opportunity to bring together Monica’s digital offerings with GE Healthcare’s global infrastructure to provide even stronger capabilities and solutions to customers around the world. GE is one of the world’s leading healthcare solutions companies, and will be promoting the use of Monica’s technology internationally. The funders, researchers, and range of other supporters should all feel very proud of what they have achieved by working together and believing in Monica Healthcare”.
Dr Susan Huxtable, director of intellectual property commercialisation at The University of Nottingham, added: “I am delighted that Monica is being acquired by GE Healthcare. GE will ensure that Monica Healthcare’s innovative products, based on technology developed by The University of Nottingham, can be distributed widely, benefitting thousands of expectant mothers across the world.
“The success of Monica illustrates that although the journey to commercialisation might be a long one, in the end it can lead to something very worthwhile which can make a significant impact”.
Monica was funded in its early stages by Action Medical Research, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and also the EU (Maria Sklodowska-Curie). It is also a portfolio company of Leicestershire-based Catapult Ventures.