CLUSTER NEWS – June 2023
Birmingham Tech Week 16-20 October, 2023
You may have seen the announcement recently that Birmingham Tech has been rebranded TechWM. This is a welcome intervention by West Midlands Combined Authority to bring about consistency and coherency in the delivery of business support services across the geographic footprint of the Combined Authority.
In the same way, the generic business support currently provided by the various LEPs’ Growth Hubs is being formed into a single organisation called Business Support WM.
TechWM is supported by the Mayor’s newly appointed Tech Commissioner, Martin Ward. All the good things about Birmingham Tech, like its staff Yiannis and Naomi, are still there – and further good news is that Birmingham Tech Week survives and will be going ahead again this year.
There will be a week of events from16th – 20th October and, just like last year, we have been asked to organise a HealthTech Day during the week. This will be on Thursday 19th October 11am – 5pm. So please save the date. We will share the programme for the day with you soon and you will need to register as places at the event will be at a premium.
On Tuesday 13th June, our regular Topical Tuesday featured Dr Michael Watts from digital solutions company Blum Health who talked about breaking down barriers to digital health. As a doctor, Michael was excellent is setting out the health benefits to be gained from development of safe and effective apps. If you couldn’t attend, please contact Ahmar and he can provide you with details of Michael’s presentation.
Date for the next Topical Tuesday will be announced shortly through our social media and by email, so watch this space.
The latest Innovative Health Working Group meeting was postponed and will now be held in September. The new arrangements will be circulated shortly. The programme has been put together with an overarching theme of “the hospital of the future”. It will be held at the UHCW Innovation Hub in Coventry.
We are currently working on a programme of activities to help explain what people can expect from the two years’ funding of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator and who is doing what. We will arrange for members to have an opportunity to meet with the University of Birmingham team who are leading on the biggest of the projects being funded.
HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES SECTOR NEWS
Emma on film!
Our Cluster Manager, Emma, recently gave a presentation about the cluster to staff of the West Midlands Combined Authority. The whole thing was captured on film. You can see and listen to Emma as she tells Iain Mansell about her work and the cluster’s activities on our You Tube channel. Watch Emma on screen!
Health Tech Awards 2024
Health Tech World has launched the Health Tech Awards 2024. Nominations open in September and right now they are seeking sponsors for the awards, which cover a very wide range of subjects. Take a look at the webpage and consider whether you might nominate someone of seek nomination for yourself – and by all means consider sponsoring one of the awards.
MRC funding for University of Birmingham drug trial
Our warm congratulations go to University of Birmingham on securing, jointly with Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, MRC funding of £1.2M funding. The grant will pay for a trial of an existing drug for a new use to treat patients with a rare blinding autoimmune disease. See this LinkedIn posting for more details.
This is a very tangible benefit of a long-term collaboration between Moorfields, UHB and the University building a mammoth database of retina scans. Really weel done everyone involved.
WEST MIDLANDS REGION NEWS
HealthTech land availability in the West Midlands
I have been asked by the West Midlands Combined Authority to produce a report on land availability issues affecting our region’s HealthTech sector.
The work involved has included desktop research and a roundtable with some of our region’s major providers of land and property services. I am currently working on the first draft of the report, which I will deliver to WMCA in due course and I expect that WMCA will publish the results.
If you have a particular interest in this subject, feel free to contact me to talk about my findings.
Midlands Engine’s Health Board relaunch
I served last year on the Midlands Engine Health Board but in recent times this Board has been inactive. Now, I am pleased to announce, Midlands Engine is relaunching the Health Board with a new purpose and a new structure. From now on, there will be both an Advisory Board and a Management Working Group and they will cover the Health, Care & Life Sciences sector across the Midlands. Emma and I will both be involved in the new structures.
Please feel free to contact me if you want any further details about the changes and what to expect of the new organisations going forward.
University of Warwick Biomedical Engineering Stakeholder Forum
The Warwick School of Engineering is hosting this Stakeholder Forum at The Slate, University of Warwick on Friday 7th July 09.30am to 3.00pm. By the time you read this, the time for registering your attendance will have passed, but if you are interested in attending this event please visit the webpage and you will see contact details if you would like to ask if you can register late.
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS
MedTech Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia 20-22 August
The Department for Business & Trade has organised a UK MedTech Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia in August 2023. The focus is very much on helping businesses to export and Embassy staff will be on hand during the visit to Saudi Arabia from 20th to 22nd August.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Trade Mission needs to register with the Department by 20th July. If you are interested, take a look at the Department’s webpage for this Trade Mission.
International Trade Week 6-10 November
For the third year running, the Government, in partnership with industry, will be running an International Trade Week from 6th to 10th November 2023. There will be in-person and online events – and other organisations are encouraged to organise their own events during the week. The aim is to build up export knowledge and skills and to make businesses aware of practical help for their exporting efforts.
A full programme will be published nearer to the date but for now you are asked to register if you are interested in any aspect of International Trade Week. See the ITW2023 webpage for more information and to register your interest.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is already a feature of everyday life, from data management to customer services. However, as we heard at our Topical Tuesday event in May, there are concerns that developments in AI are so fast they are running ahead of our understanding of their impact and consequences, and also ahead of existing regulation.
Politically, concerns are being expressed nationally and internationally about future AI developments. Our PM has put forward a case for the UK to lead the world in developing appropriate, smart regulation for AI applications.
Recently, Tony Blair and William Hague co-wrote a paper on this subject, entitled A New National Purpose: AI Promises a World-Leading Future of Britain.
It is worth reading this paper, if only to gain an understanding of the big picture issues involved in grappling with the spread of AI uses and some of the potential ways of safeguarding the public and providing reassurance. You can read the paper here.
I hope you enjoy reading my e-bulletin. Feel free to contact me personally with your feedback and suggestions for future activities at firstname.lastname@example.org