Local surgeon turned entrepreneur works with UCLan to turn business idea into reality

A Lancashire surgeon turned entrepreneur says he would be a “ship lost at sea” without the hands-on business mentoring he’s received from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Retired consultant knee surgeon Shameem Sampath, from Lytham, has worked with the university’s business support arm for the last two years after using his life-long experience to create a smart-technology product called Slider to support pre and post-operation knee and hip patients.

Shameem contacted UCLan in 2018 after needing help to turn his business idea into reality. After tapping into the university’s Health MATTERS programme, a three-year collaborative venture between the university and the Innovation Agency, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Shameem has now established a start-up company called ai Rehab Ltd  and is ready to start production with his product that has recently been granted a CE Mark.

Shameem said: “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without the support I’ve received from UCLan. I was a surgeon not a businessman so I hadn’t got a clue how to take my idea forward but I knew it was worth pursuing.

“The business experts at UCLan helped me with early designs of Slider, linked me with potential investors and helped me apply for funding grants. I had some bad experiences when I initially set up my business, so it was refreshing to work with a team that had my best interests at heart and treated me as an individual with specific business needs.”

UCLan employs a team of experts with years of experience to work with a wide range of sectors to address specific needs and develop opportunities. Through its Idea to Scale-Up programme, companies can work with the university on product design, development and validation, intellectual property (IP) protection, securing investment, commercial strategy and exploring new markets.

Peter Leather, head of IP and commercialisation at UCLan, said: “The university is in the fortunate position of housing a range of expertise and experience under one roof. We can offer a streamlined, multi-disciplinary package of support to businesses from a variety of sectors, whether they’re looking to speed up product development time, increase market share or raise investment funds.”

Shameem is currently using the Idea to Scale-Up Programme to help him validate his product in a real-world clinical environment. Through the Health MATTERS programme Shameem will also receive help in accessing the NHS, clinical staff and commissioners who can validate Slider`s clinical performance.

Shameem said: “I’ve developed an innovative product that uses artificial intelligence to record a patient’s knee or hip exercise progress and then shares the information directly with a physiotherapist. My ultimate aim is for Slider to be rolled out across the NHS.”

Chris Wynne, investment manager in the Idea to Scale-up Team, added: “Shameem’s been a great client to work with and it’s been fantastic to see how not only Slider has developed as a product, but how Shameem has developed as an entrepreneur over the last two years. ai Rehab Ltd is just one example of how a new start-up business can tap into the support services on offer at UCLan.”

Businesses can email ideatoscaleup@uclan.ac.uk to find out more.