Lives of patients needing replacement joints and other medical implants look set to improve – thanks to a £5.7m Government-backed project involving University of Bradford researchers.

The university is partnering with four leading research establishments to bring togther academics and industrialists in a bid to keep the UK leading the way in developing medical technology.

As part of the new Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices project, the University of Bradford will share a pot of £21m grant funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) when it officially opens later this year.

The funding news was announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.

The medical technology market is estimated to be worth £200 billion worldwide.

Demand for medical devices is growing fast, driven by ageing populations that expect longer and fuller lives.

Professor Phil Coates, director of the Polymer IRC research laboratories at the University of Bradford, said he hoped the funding will help build up an international centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing research.

He said: “Our new centre wants to develop new ways of designing and manufacturing devices that meet the needs of particular patients and bring the manufacturing of devices much closer to them.

“Instead of doctors ordering, unpacking and fitting implants, we want devices to be personalised to meet individuals’ needs and be made in or near the clinical setting.”

The other universities involved are Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The initial focus of the new centre’s work will be on making medical devices for musculo-skeletal and cardiovascular disease.

The centre will also develop a network of more than 300 industrial partners, academics and clinicians focused on medical device innovation and manufacturing.

“In turn that network will help develop new international standards to get the devices into the global markets and get the new technology into the NHS.

The £21m for the new centres was part of a £45m package of investments in manufacturing research announced by David Willetts, who said: “The UK has a proud history of manufacturing, but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology.

“This £45m package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques.

“This will support our industrial strategy in a range of important sectors, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”