CLUSTER NEWS – AUGUST 2022
Winners in the Commonwealth Games
Well, what a brilliant success for our City of Birmingham and our region in the way we hosted, organised and ran the Commonwealth Games. Fantastic winners all round – the athletes, the army of volunteers, the organisers and the audiences. Everything went so well. Away from the stadiums, the Cluster was busy promoting our region’s HealthTech and MedTech sector. I have written a blog about our contributions to the sector’s promotional video, a Dragons’ Den event and a panel Q&A for visitors from other countries. You can read my blog here
We took a break from hosting a monthly Topical Tuesday in August but this very popular, online, members’ gathering is back in September with a presentation from the Demand Hub about support for SMEs. Click here to register
We are just planning our next webinar, we are in discussion with Simon Spink of the WM Combined Authority about presenting a workshop for business innovators. Details to follow shortly.
Hopefully, the pandemic really is on the retreat now and we have started to give thought to holding some in-person seminars as well. I have an idea for a first seminar which I am exploring with another organisation – I will let you know when I have details to share with you.
We are thrilled to be entrusted with planning a Health Day during Birmingham Tech Week in October. The Health Day during Birmingham Tech Week 2022 will be held on Thursday 13th October. We are putting together the programme for this day – and we think it is very exciting!
We also helped Birmingham Tech with planning this year’s summer social which was held at iCentrum on Wednesday 17th August. Amazingly, 600 people registered for the event! Emma was there with our stand, flying the flag for the Cluster.
HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES SECTOR NEWS
Some great connections and ideas came out of this mini-cluster’s visit to the Rosalind Franklin Mega Lab at Leamington Spa. There looks to be a variety of ways on which our sector and the lab can work together for the benefit of our region – bespoke testing, training, lab space and out-reach are all examples of current thinking. I also want to thank the lab’s leader, Rob Hawes, for starting off a mapping exercise which we want to undertake to establish the definitive extend of the HealthTech and MedTech sector in the West Midlands.
The Cluster is still in with a shout for obtaining a fraction of the £100M over three years which the Government has allocated for three new Innovation Accelerators, one of which will be in the West Midlands. I submitted our Expression of Interest to the West Midlands Combined Authority proposing a project which we are calling “Smart Connections”.
I am delighted to let you know that the Combined Authority has now invited the Cluster to submit an application for funding based on our “Smart Connections” project. I shall be engaging with partners over the next month or so to build the application with accompanying detailed costings, The closing date for applications is 26th October. I shall report progress to you as we go along.
The current intended rationale for intervention is to help inventors and entrepreneurs to get their new products and services to market faster.
Digital Health Hub Pilot
Nearly all our region’s HealthTech and MedTech stakeholders combined to submit an application to Innovate UK for a share of an £8M fund to enable our region to develop a digital health hub pilot. I am particularly grateful to Helen Maddock and John Whitall at Coventry University for all the work they did to produce what I believe is a very strong bid. The Cluster is named non-academic partner in the bid. The decision-making process is rather prolonged so it will be early next year before we know whether we have been successful.
WEST MIDLANDS REGION NEWS
Birmingham Tech Week 2022
I have announced above that the Health Day in Birmingham Tech Week 2022 will be 13th October. There will be a very wide range of Tech subjects covered across the week between 10th and 14th October so whatever your business interests are there is very likely to be something of importance to you and your business during the week. Find out more here.
Innovate UK Edge
Innovate UK Edge is a key part of the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and their investment in the game changing businesses that drive economic growth. They focus exclusively on supporting ambitious, innovation-led SMEs with the potential for high scale growth. Thier tailored business support is delivered by a team of Innovation and Growth Specialists, each providing their unique expertise and able to draw upon world class resources and contacts from around the globe. The Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce is Innovate UK EDGE’s delivery partner in the West Midlands. Together, they aim to give businesses access to the specific support needed for businesses to flourish, from connections with investor networks to IP expertise and international partnerships. To explore the support Innovate UK Edge could offer your innovation led business, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Independent review on equity in medical devices.
The Government has commissioned an independent review about the equity in medical devices, and whether there is inequity contributing to health inequalities. The independent review has been asked to establish where and how potential ethnic and other unfair biases may arise in the entire lifecycle of medical devices, and the extent and impact of these, and to make recommendations for more equitable solutions.
The independent review is launching this call for evidence to collect existing data and evidence as well as information on ongoing data collection and research or evaluation projects. This call will be particularly relevant to those who engage in any way in the design, development, evaluation and use of medical devices.
Patients and members of the general public can also use the call to share their views and insights, but if patients have concerns about the health care received there are other dedicated channels and support available.
The future of General Practice
A new report entitled ‘The Future of General Practice’, reveals wearable tech, at home solutions and DIY testing are amongst those set to catapult healthcare into the future. Yet, the report conducted by The Future Laboratory and leading healthcare tech brand Mjog, argues lack of digital skills and training could hamper these advancements.
Insight from McKinsey suggests society experienced five years worth of digital transformation in the first eight weeks of the pandemic alone. This has accelerated patient uptake of innovations such as wearable tech (72%), telemedicine (69%), applications (69%) and video consultations (68%).
Advancements within this space, such as the uptake in smart watches, when paired with a connected GP service will give healthcare staff access to robust, real-time data to prevent illnesses and support recovery. Wearable and other forms of monitoring technologies are predicted to enable clinicians to socially prescribe and connect patients to others who have the same ailments that they do, improving their outcomes together. Whilst the report maps out big plans for the future of healthcare, it also raises the question whether the current system is able and ready to deliver on these expectations. The report suggests that patients and staff alike lack the knowledge, resource and understanding of new tech. In fact, it’s rare for student clinicians to learn how to use digital systems during their course despite intuitive technology and digital training being essential to the GP practice. There is surely scope here for innovative partnerships between providers, educators and major end-users such as NHS Trusts to maximise understanding of and familiarity with technologies with such great potential to improve patients’ lives.
Martin Peacock of Zimmer Peacock
Zimmer and Peacock Ltd of Coventry offer a range of services that stretch boundaries and make important connections. They see sensors as a critical part of a number of social and commercial movements, including the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable biosensors, the growth of the In-vitro Point-of-Care Diagnostics Market (IVD-POC) and rapid testing in the Food and Beverage Industry. They partner with academia and industry to ensure that there are enough good and commercially available sensors to meet the requirements of these new and growing markets.
At the head of the Company’s Science is Martin Peacock. Martin is an enthusiastic advocate for the health and life sciences sectors in our region and indeed he is a great advocate for the West Midlands all round.
After patient prompting by Paddie, Martin has agreed to take a leading role in our region’s diagnostics community as the face and voice of this mini-cluster. We are all very grateful to Martin for all his support. You will have read Martin’s name earlier in this bulletin – Martin was one of the panellists at the Q&A session I chaired at iCentrum on 02 August. Martin was very upbeat and positive in all his response on that occasion. He will be a real asset for the West Midlands.
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Executive Chair, August 2022