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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Applied in Focus. Global in Reach


UCL MPA Candidates present at BSI Standards e-Conference

By Siobhan Pipa, on 15 May 2020

Written by the MPA students Natalia Maj, Malla Tedroff, Jiehui Song, Jan Sassenberg and Gabriella Ezeani

Medical devices, artificial intelligence, robotics, software, Covid-19, the future of healthtech and… Zoom. On the 23rd of April, we presented our MPA research project on standardization and regulatory challenges of connected and intelligent medical devices at the first ever online BSI Conference, which attracted hundreds of participants from diverse industries and backgrounds. You can listen to the presentation here.

BSI team photoAs part of the MPA at STEaPP, students work in groups together with a client on a real-world problem for their final master’s project. This year, we, a group of students comprising Natalia Maj, Malla Tedroff, Jiehui Song, Jan Sassenberg and Gabriella Ezeani, are collaborating with the British Standards Institution (BSI), the UK’s national standards body, on challenges related to the rise of intelligent and connected medical devices. Medical devices are becoming increasingly connected and technologically advanced, incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence. These innovations disrupt the established regulatory frameworks, creating new regulatory and standardization challenges, especially relating to the protection of patient safety and device security. New, or complementary, standards are needed to address the regulatory gaps, and this is a very fascinating and challenging topic to research due to the complexity of software and connected devices.

To address this research area, our team has a wide mix of professional and academic backgrounds, allowing us to look at the problem from multiple perspectives – including law, government, policy, venture capital, innovation and cyber security. Since February 2020, we have worked closely with the BSI. The collaboration started before the world was turned upside down by Covid-19, and the BSI’s extremely helpful and dedicated team hosted us at their headquarters in London to learn more about the organisation and classification of medical devices.

In April, BSI invited us to present the project at BSI’s annual Standards Conference. Due to Covid-19, the conference was conducted as a webinar via Zoom. Luckily, we were used to communicating via videoconferencing platforms and aware of potential interruptions (“hello I think you’re on mute! Can you hear me? Hello?”) – as we probably all are by now (!). We put together a presentation covering our research areas and worked collaboratively with the BSI team to prepare and rehearse for the day. Although moving the conference online at first was a bit disappointing, the turn-up exceeded expectations beyond words, as over 1000 participants signed up for the conference from all over the world.

Jiehui and Natalia led the presentation during the assigned break-out session. They started by provided details about the UCL-BSI project and methodology, and then led an interactive part of the session. The rest of us could barely keep up with typing and taking notes due to the endless amounts of questions and feedback received during the session!  Professionals from the healthcare industry, software developers, regulators, scientists, entrepreneurs and consultants attended the UCL session, engaged with us, and asked meaningful questions. Apart from presenting our research, we also had meaningful discussions on issues related to innovation, software regulations, new regulatory frameworks and cyber security. The questions sparked new interest for us, and after the conference, we were all illuminated by the energy and enthusiasm for the next exciting phase of the project. In the next phase, we will start with our primary research and interview leaders from industry, regulatory bodies, and healthcare, to learn more about the future of medical devices and standards.

With everything going on in the world as a result of Covid-19, conducting a research project focusing on the intersection between emerging technologies and healthcare together with one of the leading players in the UK has never felt more relevant or needed.

Link to the presentation

Natalia, Malla, Jiehui, Jan and Gabriella are candidates on the Digital Technologies and Policy MPA at UCL STEaPP. For more details on the MPA and how to apply, visit the STEaPP website. 

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