Research & development

We have a deep knowledge of the needs of surgeons and nurses, we understand the economic pressures healthcare payers work under, and we recognise that patients are demanding better treatment options to restore quality of life. These factors inform our research and development (‘R&D’) strategy, which is at the heart of our business model.

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In 2013, we again delivered many new and innovative products. These included:

We have a strong new product pipeline for 2014, with many innovations scheduled, in particular in Sports Medicine Joint Repair, Trauma and Advanced Wound Management.

These new products, and many more currently in development, are a result of our focus on R&D. 

We are highly disciplined in project selection

Our R&D experts in the UK, US, Europe, China and India have extensive customer and sector knowledge, which is augmented by ongoing interaction with our marketing teams. Strict criteria are applied to ensure new products full an unmet clinical need, have a strong commercial case, and are technologically feasible.

Our R&D teams also work closely with manufacturing and supply chain management to ensure we can produce new products to clinical, cost and time specification.

Open Innovation

As part of our R&D strategy, Smith & Nephew supports and works with numerous small companies looking for help with developing and commercialising new technologies.

As supporters of NASA’s TecFusion Open Innovation programe we access and support companies developing highly creative, often disruptive, technologies that are funded by the US federal government.

We are a primary sponsor of the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center ('M2D2') New Venture Competition, supporting entrepreneurial product development by early-stage medical device companies.

We are the commercial partner in SWAN-iCare, an EU-funded initiative to bring multidisciplinary European research teams together to deliver a next generation integrated autonomous solution for monitoring and adapting personalised therapy of foot and leg ulcers.


Smith & Nephew also welcomes new product concepts from surgeons. Through our InVentures programme we collaborate to bring ideas to reality.

InVentures evaluates surgeon concepts for technical and market viability and our development team works hand-in-hand with surgeons to deliver new products that advance healing.

Commercialised products benefit from the global selling power of Smith & Nephew. In 2013, we introduced a new MODULAR RAIL SYSTEM for deformity correction and limb restoration that was designed in collaboration with Dror Paley MD through the InVentures programme.


We invested $231 million in R&D in 2013.

At 5.3% of revenue this is an increase from the 4.1% spent in the previous year.

We expect to maintain our investment level at around 5% of revenue going forward.