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CLUSTER NEWS – June 2024


Skills, skills, skills

The first thing for me to say is that I have done some work to develop a campaign to encourage HealthTech employers to commit to take apprentices from the young people aged 19-29 who complete the new pre-apprenticeship training under Path2Apprenticeships. The latter comprises a Combined Authority paid-for course which addresses the reasons why each young person is currently outside the workforce and delivers training that will get them work-ready.

The Combined Authority meets all the costs of this training, so there is no cost to employers or trainees, and trainees who are receiving Universal Credit will continue to receive it during the training period.


Secondly, I have been involved, as a voice of employers, in the research for a new report by EDSK, which is an education think tank. I have been briefed on a report, which is due to come out in September, about the future of post-18 education in England. I am sworn to secrecy on the report’s contents but the really interesting thing about the report is that it envisages post-18 education as a single Tertiary Education system. I will let you know all about the report once it has been published.

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Thirdly this month, I supported a careers fair run by Steps To Work on behalf of the WM Combined Authority and held at STEAMhouse. Our cluster manager, Emma Yeap, and I were present on our stand to explain the wide range of careers available in HealthTech and the kinds of employing organisations and businesses that are recruiting here in the West Midlands.

There was a lot of interest, over 3,000 people were recorded as attending, and Emma and I fielded questions from visitors all day.

Some people asked for my help in getting a job. They seemed very well motivated. Here is a summary of three of them who asked for my help getting them jobs in HealthTech. Let me know if you would like me to introduce you to any of them.

No.CV strengthsAreas of interest
1First-Class Honours Degree in Computer Science; University Visiting Demonstrator; Digital Records & Data SecurityDigital Health; Project Management (inc Risk Management); Data security.
2MSc Photonic Integrated Circuits, Sensors, and Networks (PIXNET); BEng Biomedical Engineering; R&D Engineer (Intern)Biomedical engineering; Photonic Integrated Circuits, Sensors, and Networks; Analytics & problem-solving.
3Specialist degree in Applied Linguistics (English-Ukrainian-Russian), and fluent in all 3 languages to an advanced level.  n Kyiv, Ukraine, worked as a proofreader and editor of The Lancet and Therapia, Ukrainian Medical Reporter journals, translating and proofreading medical and scientific documents (journal articles, reports, manuals, reference books (Compendium, the Drug Reference Book), guides (the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy), atlases (Atlas of Human Anatomy), medication guides, translated and edited information for exhibitions (the world-famous one called Body Worlds) and conferences for doctors, pharmaceuticals and nutritionists. Chief editor of the book for nutritionists called Evidence-Based Nutrition: Science and Practice. A fast-learner, detail-oriented, highly-organized, communicative, initiative, punctual, responsible and diligent. Looking for work as proofreader, editor or translator, or administrator, project manager, assistant or similar. 


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June’s Topical Tuesday featured Dan Evans of BEC presenting on the new KickStart for Health programme which WMHTC and BEC will be operating. We will jointly deliver support to entrepreneurs who seek to set up HealthTech businesses in the West Midlands based on their innovative ideas for health products and services.

Express your interest in the Kick Start project here.

med tech expo June 2024

We had attendance at two Expos this month: first MedTech EXPO at the NEC where colleagues met with new and existing Members offering support and discussing future projects, and secondly the careers fair at STEAMhouse attended by 3,000 people.

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I attended the Midlands Economic Summit at the NEC where a large business audience heard from the newly-elected Mayors of both the East Midlands and West Midlands. There is a very welcome focus across the Midlands on businesses, innovation, productivity and growth, all underpinned by an improved support network for developing skills and talent.

I met the new Chair of the new industry-led WM HealthTech Land Insights Forum, CBRE’s Will Ventham and started on a work plan ahead of the Forum’s second meeting in October. Obviously, the focus will be on land availability for a growing HealthTech sector, and we will seek to identify and address potential bottlenecks and obstacles. We are working with Tech WM on a plan to launch a Tech Connect platform, which aims to provide a one-stop shop for providing guidance and signposting to tech businesses. I am in talks with CEO Yiannis Maos, and the Tech Commissioner, Martin Ward, to link up the HealthTech sector to this platform.


KickStart for Health WM

We and BEC have now launched our programme for supporting entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. The aim of the programme is to take people with the ideas, whether they are clinician, researchers, technologists or anyone else, and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to be an entrepreneur.

The three purposes of the programme are:

  • To develop a strong pipeline of new, innovative healthtech & medtech businesses in the West Midlands.
  • To create a pathway for innovators in other sectors to better understand and pivot into the health sector.  
  • To plug a critical gap in support infrastructure, which currently means a gap of support for health and medtech innovation at TRL 1-3.

We want to recruit participants and mentors. We are open for applications NOW, and we are looking to start the first cohort in September.

Express your interest here.

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Manifesto for the West Midlands Health Technologies sector

Like many organisations, we produced a manifesto for our sector’s needs for the General Election campaign. In our manifesto, we ask the next Government to:

  • Continue to support innovation in HealthTech and Life Sciences in a stable and predictable manner
  • Adopt a pro-growth approach which is strategic and place-based
  • Restore the global reputation and international attractiveness of the UK’s regulatory regime in HealthTech and Life Sciences
  • Remove unnecessary obstacles to Market Access and Adoption
  • Get the skills and infrastructure models right
  • Never lose sight of Location, Location, Location

Let me know if you would like to know more. Or read our full Manifesto document here.

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Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, Leamington Spa

We now know that the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory is being marketed for sale or rent. It would be remiss of me not to let you know that there is now a marketing website containing information about the facilities, the options for its use (or several uses) and how to get in touch if you are interested in exploring more.

Feel free to visit the website.

Trade opportunity

I have been asked to organise a webinar for a MedTech trade association in Germany, which I am working towards delivering in September. If you already have trade links in Germany and would be interested in taking part, or if you would like to know about trade opportunities in Germany (exports, supply chain, inward investment etc.) please let me know and I will keep you posted on progress.

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Turning innovative technology concepts into market reality

Apply for £50k funding to turn your innovative technology concepts into market reality. The BBSRC-STFC Biotechnology Business Incubation Centre is an incubator programme for early-stage biotechnology start-ups.

You must:

  • be a UK-registered company under five years old that is majority-owned by founders and employees
  • have received previous support from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or a UKRI partner organisation.

The closing date for applications is 28th July and the details are here.


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New £3M Support Programmes in the West Midlands

Two new support programmes have been launched by Business Growth West Midlands to turbocharge the growth of some of our region’s brightest businesses and to help others move into new transport markets. Businesses can now apply to join the High Growth Accelerator and the Supply Chain Transition Programme, which are fully funded for businesses thanks to Commonwealth Games legacy money set aside to drive economic growth.

The Supply Chain Transition Programme will help small and medium-sized enterprises diversify their customer base by winning new orders in growing areas of the economy – aerospace; very light rail and light electric vehicles; and micromobility such as e-scooters and cargo bikes. Up to 160 businesses will benefit from workshops, intensive one-to-one coaching, peer-to-peer support, and meet-the-buyer events.

The High Growth Accelerator will identify 50 of the region’s businesses with the most potential and provide them with tailored support to unlock barriers to sustainable growth. The programme will include help to use data to drive strategy, access research and development facilities, provide guidance around issues such as intellectual property, and functional support such as governance and tax.

There is more information about these programmes here.

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Launching a Tech Business for Non-Tech Founders – 18 July

Just as I run a cluster organisation for HealthTech in the West Midlands, there is also a cluster for our region’s professional services called SuperTech. In 2022 SuperTech funded and launched 30 new tech businesses into the West Midlands region creating more opportunities for growth, jobs, innovation and inclusion than any other startup program!

At this event you can learn how SuperTech, supported by their partner Greater Things, helps founders to take their business idea to market utilising tried, tested and proven ‘no-code’ tools and micro-investments.

This event is ideal for founders that are currently seeking investment to build and launch their startup, especially those that have little technical experience. We will walk you through a pioneering new approach to launching a business using the most up-to-date no-code / low-code and AI tools.

Attendees will hear first-hand from successful founders and one of the UK’s leading voices in artificial intelligence. You will hear how founders that started with a simple no-code minimum viable product (MVP) that they built themselves have scaled and exited for millions of pounds.

For those looking for more hands on early stage business support, or a base providing state of the art development and testing space our hosts at STEAMHouse, will be on hand to showcase the digital labs, business support programme and facilities on offer.

This interactive session is open to all, from graduates to seasoned professionals looking to embark on a new venture.

The evenings line-up will include:

  • Keynote from Jof Walters, one of the West Midlands most prolific investors in idea stage startups
  • Fire side chat and Q&A session with Heather Murray – successful no-code founder and advisor on Artificial Intelligence to Government and Tier One ProfTechs
  • A primer on No-Code / Low-Code and AI MVP development for startups from the worlds leading expert on the subject Simon Jenner
  • Hilary Smyth-Allen, exclusive announcement of new Seeds Programme launch.

STEAMhouse digital labs with specialist business support team will be on hand for any questions

Networking drinks and nibbles to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs and the chance to bounce your business ideas off seasoned experts.

18th July, 5:30-7:30pm, STEAMhouse, Belmont Row, Birmingham B4 7RQ

To register for the event visit Eventbrite here.

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BCU Employer Engagement offer

BCU’s Employer Engagement team look at sourcing placement opportunities for the university’s Computing, Engineering & Built Environment Faculty. The team covers managing vacancies through to coordinating employability events or embedded academic activity. They also run a fully funded micro-placement project where they can place students with your organisation for 4-8 week placements – all paid for by BCU. There is a similar placement scheme operated in the Health, Education & Life Sciences Faculty.

Typically, placements start between April and August and are completed by September. Students and host organisations are registered with the Unitemps agency, paid by BCU, and students are paid monthly.

If you might be interested in BCU’s services, let me know and I can put you in touch with the engagement team.

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British Business Bank – Midlands Engine Investment Fund II

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund II will deliver £400 million of new funding to small and medium-sized businesses across the Midlands.

The fund aims to build on the success of the first Midlands Engine Investment Fund and will drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating opportunities for new and growing businesses in the Midlands.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund II offers a range of commercial finance options with debt finance from £25,000 to £2 million and equity investment up to £5 million. The fund covers the whole of Midlands, including the West Midlands, East Midlands and South East Midlands.


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OptiRad radiology tech

Digital Health reports that West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust has rolled out Hexarad technology which aims to boost the performance of its radiology departments.

Hexarad’s OptiRad is intended to help cut scan waiting times for patients, ensuring they can receive treatment as soon as possible, according to a press release dated 20 June.

The cloud-based software tool, which was implemented in June 2024, optimises how radiology departments operate by forecasting capacity, delivering performance analytics and carrying out key administration tasks, freeing up radiologists’ time.

Hexarid says that OptiRad can process and allocate thousands of scans in minutes, cutting the time it takes to allocate a scan to a radiologist by approximately 90%.

Dr Nina Breunung-Joshi, clinical director radiology at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, said: “Like NHS trusts all over the country, one of our top priorities is getting patients seen and the results of their scans as quickly as possible and prioritising reports, but workforce shortages and the rising demand for scans is making this increasingly difficult.”

Cyber attack on London Hospitals

A Russian criminal gang has stolen highly sensitive NHS patient data, including the results of blood tests for HIV and cancer, after a cyber-attack this month.

The group posted nearly 400GB of data overnight from a hack of Synnovis, a private/NHS joint venture that provides pathology services such as blood tests and transfusions. Seven hospitals run by two NHS trusts, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College, have been affected by the ransomware attack.

Qilin, the Russian gang that carried it out, has now released data it extracted during the cyberheist. The release of private information suggests that Synnovis has refused to pay a ransom to Qilin to decrypt its systems and delete any stolen data.

Synnovis said that an analysis of the data was under way in conjunction with the NHS, the National Cyber Security Centre and other partners which “aims to confirm whether the data was taken from Synnovis’ systems and what information it contains”.

The cyber attack leading to the apparent leak of sensitive patient information could have a major reputational international impact, affecting private patient income worth around £75m to the NHS, senior officials fear.

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Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

In its latest report, the World Health Organisation has said that the number of antibacterial agents in the clinical pipeline increased from 80 in 2021 to 97 in 2023, but “there is a pressing need for new, innovative agents for serious infections and to replace those becoming ineffective due to widespread use”.

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to medicines, making people sicker and increasing the risk of spread of infections that are difficult to treat, illness and deaths. AMR is driven largely by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, yet, at the same time, many people around the world do not have access to essential antimicrobial medicines.

“Antimicrobial resistance is only getting worse yet we’re not developing new trailblazing products fast enough to combat the most dangerous and deadly bacteria,” said Dr Yukiko Nakatani, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance. “Innovation is badly lacking yet, even when new products are authorized, access is a serious challenge.”

Spotlight on

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WM Land Insights Forum

I informed you previously about setting up this WM Land Insights Forum, which was one of the recommendations from the report I produced last year about the availability of land for HealthTech businesses in our region.

The new Forum met for the first time in April, bringing together representatives from the land management sector, HealthTech, Local Authorities, Universities and Science Parks, and the Combined Authority and the Growth Company.

It is led by Chair Will Ventham (CBRE), Vice Chair Jane Coleman (University of Warwick) and myself as its secretary.

The Forum plans to meet again in October to settle the details of its role, its communications strategy and its forward programme. I plan to report there on the research I commissioned this year to gather baseline information on the extent of our region’s HealthTech sector.

Once Forum members feel confident that they have a coherent plan for the Forum’s work, we will arrange a launch of the Forum in 2025 in front of an invited audience.

I hope you enjoy reading my e-bulletin. Feel free to contact me personally with your feedback and suggestions for future activities at david@wmhtc.co.uk


Executive Chair.

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