Health Tech in the West Midlands

Regional Landscape

The West Midlands has the largest number of medical technology and device companies in the country, together with a world-class research and innovation infrastructure and unbeatable access to high tech facilities and skills.

The region also benefits from world-class research and innovation facilities, a well-connected life sciences community, and over 6,500 medical graduates from our universities each year.

Major advances are being made in medical technology. Introducing innovative solutions to the way we are diagnosed, treated and cared for. The region is home to Salts Healthcare, The Binding Site Group, Kimal and Bruker.

Through leveraging our internationally-competitive academic excellence (e.g. in healthcare technology and evaluation), clinical infrastructure (e.g. trials, digital informatics), legacy and cutting-edge manufacturing strengths and new technologies, aligned to strategic policy prioritisation of this sector by our West Midlands Combined Authority, we are committed to delivering a transformational step-change in our cluster that will deliver significant economic growth.

Leading companies
Partners and networks
Members and strategic partners
The four Ds

The West Midlands possesses nationally recognised strengths in healthcare data informatics, systems and digitalisation of health care services. These are aligned to strengths in genomics medicine and diagnostics, medical technologies evaluation and clinical trials.

Rapid testing and diagnosis was a national priority when the pandemic took hold. The value of fast and accurate diagnoses is enormous and the leaps forward during COVID-19 times should now be locked in going forward.

This is why the cluster has been asked by the West Midlands Combined Authority to lead a project to nurture smaller diagnostics businesses in the region. These companies, and the work they are doing, should form the firmest of foundations for our future health technologies sector.

It is a tremendous strength of our region that we can link ideas for improvements in health technologies to the advanced manufacturing we are famous for. A lot of the innovation that was driven by our fight against the pandemic involved engineering solutions provided here.

The national testing of the responses to the Government’s ventilator challenge was done here. We were also innovative in our response to the Government’s urgent call for PPE. One hospital trust and five local manufacturing companies came up.

In future, digital applications will allow patients the benefit of greater control over their own health. They will access faster treatment, make fewer trips to hospital, and experience more support in their own home. Support for treatment, support for managing long-term conditions, and support for living a healthier life. And a key advantage will be greater access to their own data. Health and social care staff will benefit, too. Their time will be freed up for giving more attention to patients with the most urgent and complex issues, they will avoid duplication, and they will be better able to share information in secure and collaborative ways. In 2020, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Babylon agreed a 10-year partnership to develop a new model of digital-first healthcare to improve care for the population of Wolverhampton. The partnership was first to launch the globally available COVID-19 care assistant. They launched the service, which leveraged Babylon technology and the Trust’s operational know-how, to ensure their population had access to the right advice and services at the right time. The new model envisages digital access to a wide range of services, including health assessments, symptom checking, consultations with doctors and nurses, real-time health information from wearable technology and connected apps, and rehabilitation after surgery.

The implications go far beyond treatment for existing conditions – people can access information, advice and promptings to manage their health and prevent ill-health arising in the first place. Babylon is a large British company. At the other end of the scale, our region is home to an expanding base of small companies with big ideas. Dignio is one example. A Norwegian business, Dignio set up a Birmingham base because of the support it received from regional organisations like the Academic Health Science Network. The company’s ambition is to enable and empower individuals with longterm conditions to self-manage their health. Facilitating safe remote care and behavioural change, Dignio’s Connected Care solution comprises software as a medical device and consists of a platform for healthcare professionals and a user-friendly patient app. The company is growing and expanding its presence in the UK.

Underpinning all the good developments locally in diagnostics, devices and digital is the existence of usable data. Whenever an entrepreneur has an idea for a new service or product, or an investor wants to know the prospects for an investment in a new proposition, access to data is essential. What is the incidence of a particular condition in the region? What do past clinical trials tell us about the need for a new treatment or device? A great example of what our region has to offer in this space is PIONEER Health Data Research Hub.

This is a major research database, ethically managed and completely secure, which links patient data at an individual level across community and hospital health care providers. The Hub can provide data access under license to NHS, academic, commercial, policy, and third sector organisations. PIONEER holds all data within a central repository, with a single Data Controller and over-arching ethics, meaning it can respond agilely to data requests, cutting data to requirements, increasing the opportunities for end users.

Regional research institues

The West Midlands is home to three thriving cities: Birmingham. Coventry and Wolverhampton. It has an internationally recognised academic community and reams of talent. We have 7 research led universities in the West Midlands, which train the next generation of health professionals and shape the field of medical science.

Aston University

University of Birmingham

Birmingham City University

Coventry University

Keele University

Staffordshire University

University of Warwick

University of Worcester

University of Wolverhampton