Expert support to speed up the development of medical devices is being made available through a new partnership serving small and medium-sized businesses.

Under the five-year agreement SMEs supported by the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) based at Heriot-Watt University will be able to engage with Technology Scotland to advance designs for novel healthcare solutions. Through its Product Design Scotland Network, Technology Scotland will focus in particular on the sustainability of medical devices.

The MDMC consortium includes the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and Robert Gordon University and provides access to its £2 million specialist manufacturing facilities to small developers.

Technology Scotland supports more than 125 industrial and academic members across three networks to deliver advances in markets ranging from healthcare and communications to manufacturing and mobility.

READ MORE: 'Landmark' deal for medical development in Scotland

Professor Duncan Hand, director of the MDMC at Heriot-Watt University, said access to specialist design capability is one of the biggest challenges that SMEs working in the sector currently face.

"We are a nation of innovators, but it is essential that expert support is more easily and consistently accessible to SMEs to translate their game-changing innovations into devices that can be more quickly adopted for the benefit of patient care," he added.

Technology Scotland chief executive Alastair McInroy said the enabling technologies sector has long supported the country's "vibrant" life sciences industry. The partnership with the MDMC is designed to take that a step further.

"Realising the potential of these technologies, and successfully navigating the journey from concept to commercialisation, requires careful integration of design processes and frameworks,” he said.