Stephanie Monty is using her engineering design skills to come up with new stoma bags which propel the clinical pouch into the realms of fashion. 

Her company, Ostique, has now won a two-year £320,000 grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to develop a whole range of new stoma products.

Bowel & Cancer Research was a co-applicant for the Innovate grant and we are leading on all aspects of patient involvement in the project for 18 months, including testing the prototypes with volunteers before they go into production.

Stephanie, 29, was inspired to launch Ostique by her two brothers and her dad, all of whom suffer from Crohn’s disease and face the possibility of having to live with a stoma in future. 

When I looked into what having a stoma meant, I thought surely a fabric bag stuck on with adhesive can’t be all that’s out there. It really inspired me to think differently.

said Stephanie who studied Design and Engineering at Brunel University.

She addressed the design of stoma products in her final-year design project at Brunel in 2015 and founded her company Ostique in 2017. The first designs of her new stoma bags were baked in her oven at home.

Because I was immersed in the design world where we are focused on service to the customer, I thought, well, the customer is right here at home and this isn’t what my brothers would want.

Stephanie and her team have now come up with a working prototype (minimum viable product), made of silicone. The many designs vary in style, colour and shape. They use innovative adhesives to reduce skin inflammation. They include embossed stoma covers which can be matched to the wearer’s skin tone.

I took my inspiration from nice underwear and tattoo artwork...

 “...The aim was to come up with a product which isn’t an embarrassment. It can be worn for up to six hours for swimming, on the beach, in the gym or during intimacy. It must be sweat-proof, waterproof, leak-proof and even suncream-proof.

“I’m not saying that other products out there are bad. There are, however, unmet patient needs and I believe that, with this project, we can come up with something revolutionary.”

There are an estimated 200,000 ostomates in the UK. Many have had surgery for bowel cancer and other bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

The depression, anxiety and isolation experienced by many ostomates is very real – going to the beach and baring all is something which many don’t do,

She expects her new stomas products to be available in 2022.

Our PPI Lead at Lesley Booth – an ostomate herself – is delighted that Bowel & Cancer Research is involved in the project.   

Our unique position of  supporting bowel-related research means that we are able to tailor the PPI to help the development team and do our bit to make sure that the end product is as good for ostomates as it can possibly be.

Stephanie received mentoring from the University of Birmingham’s business incubator the BizzInn. Whilst at the BizzInn, she was introduced to the ERDF-funded Medical Device Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) and the NIHR Trauma Management MIC, both based at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which will provide support for the testing and commercialisation of the product. 

Others involved in the project include the Cambridge Design Partnership. 

If you're interested in becoming involved as a patient in this study, please email Lesley Booth.