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Medical innovation proves just the tonic

If you’ve ever given a blood sample, your finger was probably pricked by a tiny little lancet made by Oxford-based medical devices company Owen Mumford. The business invented the gadget in 1976, and it has become a worldwide hit.

The secret to Owen Mumford’s success has been innovation and focus, managing director Jarl Severn reveals. The company employs 80 people in R&D, and they have a brief that requires a new, patentable innovation every 30 days.

“Not all these ideas make it, but we patent 12-15 new inventions every year,” says Severn. “That’s one hell of a hit rate.”

Focus has also been key, he explains: “We started out making medical devices but then in the sixties and seventies we ventured into other products, from door handles to Christmas decorations. It was only in the nineties that we decided to focus back on medical devices.”

This strategy has helped Owen Mumford become a market leader, supplying seven out of the top 10 diagnostics companies in the world.

Around 90pc of the company’s revenues are generated from exports, mainly to the US and Asia. “Half of the world’s total healthcare spend is in the US,” says Severn. “This is why we now have an office in Atlanta.”

Being based in the UK has proved an advantage when selling overseas, he adds: “’Made in Britain’ is synonymous with trust. That’s been very valuable as competition, especially from the Far East, has increased.”

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