Northern Ireland Medical Innovation in Japanese Breakthrough Announced at Medica in Dusseldorf

Japanese surgeons are among the first in the world to train on a highly innovative human airway simulator developed and manufactured in Northern Ireland.

The Airsim airway training system, launched in June by TruCorp, a Belfast-based medical device company formed with assistance from Invest Northern Ireland, has already secured export sales in Asia Pacific, including Japan, where it is being used in a leading medical centre in Tokyo, and parts of Europe. It is also in use in hospitals in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Airsim is among a number of innovative products being shown by a group of Northern Ireland companies attending Medica, the world’s biggest medical exhibition, in Dusseldorf from 15-19 November. Seventeen Northern Ireland companies and BioBusiness NI, the sector’s representative body, are at Medica – six on an Invest NI capability stand, four on their own stands and seven on a trade development visit.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Life Sciences, says: “This is one of the biggest ever Northern Ireland presentations of products and services at this important international exhibition and conference.

“Equally significant is the participation of several companies with highly innovative products across a range of sectors, including diagnostics and medical devices. Life sciences and medical devices are target growth sectors for Invest NI and we have developed initiatives to assist their development and success in international markets. The event will enable our companies to explore opportunities with potential customers and distributors from virtually every global market,” he adds.

Airsim is also being integrated within a full scale mannequin for training surgeons in a broad range of procedures by a US medical company.

The product, which enables medical staff to master the often tricky technique, particularly in emergency situations, of inserting a tube into a patient's windpipe using a true to life simulator, was developed by doctors at Queen's University, Belfast in close collaboration with engineers at the university's Northern Ireland Technology Centre.

Colin Foster, TruCorp's Managing Director, says: "We've been tremendously encouraged by the response that we've had to Airsim from medical professionals in many parts of the world. A number of approaches have already been received from medical simulation centres worldwide and we've supplied products to them.

"They are attracted by Airsim's unique features. It has exactly the same look and feel and functions like a human airway. This makes it ideal for medical staff involved in the insertion of tubes and fibre optic cameras. The device includes a moveable jaw that can be used in bag and mask ventilation procedures. Showing Airsim at Medica enables us to reach many of the decision makers we need to influence in global medical devices," he adds.

The product is also benefiting other Northern Ireland companies such as Evason Product Design in Omagh and Donite Plastics, Lisburn, which have been involved in its development.

TruCorp is now following up the success of the initial Airsim product with four new developments including an electronic version, E-Sim, which recently gained a Department of Trade and Industry SMART award for innovative R&D projects, and Airsim Bronchi, a device for simulating treatment in bronchial tubes.