University of Salford Manchester

Foot health devices

Professor Chris Nester and his colleagues have transferred their research findings in the foot health devices sector into products and services in commercial and clinical settings, supporting a £100 billion global healthcare equipment and supplies industry, contributing to economies and to quality of life on a daily basis for those with foot and lower limb health problems, world-wide. The benefiting partners are part of global businesses and public and private sector clinical services and Chris and his colleagues have pioneered the connection of research to commercial foot health products and services:

  • Supporting innovation in foot related clinical practice, improving quality of life for people with a range of health challenges;
  • Bringing credible and science led innovation in foot health devices to commercial partners and the market, contributing significant economic benefit internationally.

Improving access to foot health support products and services

Research by Chris and his colleagues has accelerated innovation in footwear, foot orthotic and footcare products, to increase mobility, independence and quality of life for a wide range of users – from health care consumers to patients. Commercial and public sector partners are integrated into the research throughout its development and translation into practice or product, and range from SMEs to global brands such as Scholl and FitFlop. Commercial partners commission research only where they can identify economic benefit in doing so. Chris and his team have established highly valued partnerships with some of the leading companies in the foot health sector, with continuous funding contracts totalling an investment of £2M at Salford since 2008, and a futher £0.5M in EU funds.  

Chris and his colleagues launched the salfordinsole brand and company in 2008 as a University of Salford 'spin-out' company and more than 50,000 pairs of salfordinsole orthoses have been sold to the NHS and private sectors, with two overseas distributors appointed.

Research using the salfordinsole led to a new orthotic design for knee arthritis, adopted by the Arthritis UK ROAM programme between Salford and Manchester Universities. In April 2013 this design was launched under the Boots Pharmaceutical brand, projected to sell 12,000 per annum across over 400 Boots stores.

Partner perspectives

"Salford has pushed the boundaries of knowledge in foot skin behaviour and biomechanics. Developing more effective products ensuring better quality of life for patients and consumers in which their foot problems do not hold them back. We do not have this sort of relationship with any other universities for foot care. Reckitt Benckiser, owner of the Scholl brand

"Since the sale of the first sandal in 2007, the University of Salford has provided independent expertise to FitFlop. The rigorous testing conducted by the University provided scientific corroboration of the efficacy of functional aspects of the technology. FitFlop has achieved sales in excess of 20 million in 54 countries." FitFlop