University of Leeds showcases pioneering research for Minister


The new Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, visited world-leading research facilities at the University of Leeds.

Mr Johnson toured the University’s Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE), which has pioneered research in joint replacement technologies, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, and the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, one of the best equipped robot building labs in the world.

He saw first-hand how Leeds is tackling key societal challenges, such as improving joint replacements and tissue repair for an aging population, helping the fight against colorectal (bowel) cancer by developing a more patient-friendly colonoscopy, and a robotic system to assist patients with rehabilitation.

Following the visit to the iMBE, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Director of the Institute, Professor John Fisher, said, “It’s fitting that the Minister chose Leeds and one of the world’s top 10 bioengineering research institutes for his first visit, where we were able to showcase our expertise and world-leading technologies that are making a real difference to people’s lives.

“Our goal at the Institute is 50 active years after 50, as we believe that our second 50 years can be as active as the first. For example, we’re helping companies across the world create better, more durable, hip and knee joint replacements which wear less and last longer, and we are developing novel biological scaffolds to support tissue repair and regeneration.” 

The Minister was then shown round Leeds’ Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, which has the most advanced suite of robot building equipment in the UK, offering the latest 3D printing and high-precision assembly technologies.

Dr Rob Richardson, Director of the Facility, said, “The robotic facility puts Leeds and the UK at the forefront of robot design and construction.

“We showed the Minister our work towards developing a novel robotic hydro-colonoscopy. As one of the world’s most common cancers, we hope to develop more patient-friendly screening and increase the uptake of colonoscopies, to ultimately help with the early diagnosis – and treatment - of colorectal cancer.

“We also showcased iPAM, our robotic exercise system for people with strokes – this means stroke patients are helped with additional exercises on their affected upper limbs, in between conventional therapy sessions.”

Mr Johnson said: “I’ve been hugely impressed by iMBE and the robotics and autonomous systems are just mind-blowing. The benefits we will see to UK productivity in years to come will be immense.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, who also met with the Minister, added, “The UK has a very strong reputation in science and research, but universities play an enormous role in transferring this knowledge into commercial and clinical applications. Our Medical Technologies IKC, which is an innovation and knowledge centre funded by UK Research Councils, is one of the best at developing world-leading technologies from our world-leading research, so we have much to be proud of to share with the Minister today.”

The Minister visited on Monday 15 June 2015. 

Further information

Contact University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email

Photo: PhD student, Joe Norton, talks to Jo Johnson MP about the University's world-leading innovative robotic systems 

University of Leeds Faculty of Engineering

The Faculty of Engineering is one of the largest engineering groupings in the UK, having in excess of 700 staff, 3,000 students and an annual turnover of around £60m. In the latest Research Excellence Framework 2014, over 80% of research activity rated as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. It hosts the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems.

Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE)

The Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE) is one of the world's top 10 bioengineering research institutes.

It pioneers research and education in the fields of medical devices and regenerative medicine. The research focuses on three main areas - Joint Replacement, Tissue Re-engineering and Functional Spinal Interventions.

It has world-class labs and equipment, with a range of experimental and computational facilities to aid research.

See the interactive skeleton to see examples of its work.

National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems

The £4.3 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems opened in the University of Leeds in October 2014.

The research builds on the University’s existing strengths in robotics for surgical applications, patient rehabilitation, prosthetics and exploration.

The facility is being funded as a resource not only for researchers but also for industry, and forging partnerships with companies interested in developing state-of-the-art robotics is a key objective.

A selection of photographs of the facility are available here

Medical Technologies IKC

Based at the University of Leeds in the UK, Medical Technologies IKC is an innovation and knowledge centre that brings businesses together with world-class experts to accelerate the commercial development of new medical technology products and services.

It is founded around the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and is funded by the UK Research Councils,