Cross Border (Scotland/Ireland) Innovation Project – Case Study

News 24th January 2023

RUA Medical has become the first company to complete a project under the cross-border Co-Innovate programme after being paired with a Republic of Ireland academic institute – enabling the company to develop new product offerings and target additional export markets. This successful ‘business to academia’ collaboration is being used as a case study to further promote the Co-Innovate programme to priority sectors including manufacturing, renewables, life and health sciences, agri-food and tech and ICT. A link to the case study can be found here


RUA Medical custom-manufactures medical devices and specialises in implantable fabrics that are specifically designed for surgical implantation – their most recent development being a device that replaces diseased blood vessels for prevention of heart attacks and strokes. RUA has premises in Irvine and Prestwick, with four cleanroom suites and skilled employees. The company was the first to initiate a business-to-academia funded project via the Co-Innovate programme, with its work to develop polymer coating processes and technologies for its surgically implantable fabrics.


Co-Innovate is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), and aims to increase the number of businesses participating in cross-border, transnational or interregional research projects. It operates in Northern Ireland, the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland, and areas of Western Scotland – with Scottish Enterprise responsible for overseeing projects in Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.


With guidance and support from Scottish Enterprise, RUA Medical embarked on a 12-month collaboration with the Institute of Technology Sligo in the Republic of Ireland, giving the company access to testing facilities and world-class technological expertise. The Co-Innovate programme grant also part-funded an R&D Project Manager, who has since taken a permanent role with RUA Medical.


The project was completed on schedule, and the first devices made via the new fabric coating operation – using RUA’s trademark Elast-EonTM polymer technology – are currently undergoing regulatory testing, with commercial launch anticipated after FDA approval.


RUA Medical CEO, Dr Caroline Stretton, said: “Thanks to Co-Innovate support via Scottish Enterprise, together we’ve been able to accelerate an important innovation project and expand our business offering, enabling us to attract a wider range of customers and reach new export markets. It also helped us focus on the right activities to secure the company’s future growth. Due to the bespoke nature of establishing this new fabric coating activity and introducing new expertise into the company, we felt this could only be achieved through tailored collaboration with an academic expert who also understood the medical device environment – and this became possible through this programme. ”


Stacey Neville, Innovation Specialist at Scottish Enterprise, added: “It has been a pleasure to work with Caroline and the RUA Medical team throughout this project, and to see the resulting successes. This project has helped reinforce RUA Medical as a specialist full-service textile provider from design through to final product supply, and we’re excited to follow the next steps in their growth journey.”


Co-Innovate’s priority sectors include manufacturing, renewables, life and health sciences, agri-food and tech and ICT. The Co-Innovate partnership is led by InterTradeIreland and includes Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Enterprise Northern Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices in the border counties of Ireland, and East Border Region Ltd.


To find out more visit