CLUSTER NEWS – JUNE 2022
We’re aiming to recruit new members
As a Cluster organisation, we are only as strong as our cluster members make us – we are here to represent the interests of our region’s health tech businesses, advocate for the best economic and political environment for growing the sector and spotting opportunities for our members.
We are over a year old now and we want more members, we want active businesses in all parts of the West Midlands to support our work through being members. And we want our members to support each other so we will be helping members to extend their B2B offer through our good offices.
Over the next month, you will see more activity by us designed to make the case for membership, attract more businesses into membership and spread the benefits of a strong health tech cluster in the West Midlands. We can also offer benefits to existing members if you refer other businesses to us who will pay to join. Please look out for our membership activity, it is coming round now!
June’s Topical Tuesday featured Jamie Elliot, the Combined Authority’s Innovation Lead telling us the latest news on the development of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator. It was a very well-attended session and it was evident that there is a lot of interest in how this is going to evolve.
July’s Topical Tuesday will feature Andrew Shortt from the GBSLEP Growth Hub talking about support for incubators for Health Tech Businesses. Come to this session and hear the latest thinking on how best to support new and young Health Tech businesses in the West Midlands.
Andrew Shortt, Health Tech and Life Sciences Account Manager, GBSLEP Growth Hub Andrew holds a 1st class chemistry degree, and a distinction in MSc pharmacology, experienced in working with start-ups and SMEs within the health tech, biotech, med tech, life sciences, CROs, med devices, and pharma industries.
Register Now to attend this event, Click here.
Our next webinar will be about air quality:
There is now a direct link identified between air quality and health of Human beings. Health professionals, GPs and health consultants rarely link air pollution with deterioration of health. The purpose of the event is to bring health and technology speakers onto a single platform to share good practice and bring about better understanding about the Big Problem of air pollution, how air quality is measured and how air pollution impacts on health on all of us but especially children and the vulnerable members of our society. The speakers will also explore how air pollution data, Ai, weather, traffic and GIS could be applied, using latest technology, to provide useful information to health practitioners and sufferers to use for mitigation strategies. This event is on the 20th of July, 10-11am.
Register Now to attend this event, Click here
Other Events in the pipeline:
In the planning stage are a series of masterclasses to be presented by Deloitte and a conference jointly hosted by us and the lawyers DLA Piper on AI and automation.
HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES SECTOR NEWS
The latest DIAGCOMM activity has been a visit, organised by the Cluster, to the Five Ways home of leading diagnostics company The Binding Site on Thursday 23rd June 2022. The theme for the day was manufacturing. A range of businesses, academics and others associated with the region’s diagnostics sector attended and took part in a tour of the facilities and a discussion about the manufacturing needs of the diagnostics sector. I am grateful to The Binding Site for hosting the visit. The next planned activity is a visit to the Rosalind Franklin Mega Lab at Leamington Spa. If you are interested in coming along, just let me know.
Back in February 2022, the Government announced, in its Levelling Up White Paper, an investment of £100M in three new Innovation Accelerators: in Glasgow, the North-West and the West Midlands. In our case, the Combined Authority (CA) has the lead in the design of the proposed Innovation Accelerator (IA). I am being invited to a meeting of stakeholders on 4th July to discuss this.
Currently, the proposed scope of the IA, in terms of areas of the regional economy to be covered, is Clean Tech, Health Tech and Med Tech.
The current intended rationale for intervention is to help inventors and entrepreneurs to get their new products and services to market faster. I don’t have a problem with these parameters myself. I shall be speaking for members of the Cluster when I attend the meeting. If you have any suggestions, you would like me to take into the meeting, please send them to me now. I will of course report back afterwards.
Commonwealth Games 2022
In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, the West Midlands Growth Company in pulling together a number of showcase events in key industry sectors to take place during the Games. Our region naturally wants to make the most of hosting the Games and welcoming international delegations and companies to the West Midlands. At the Cluster, we are ready and willing to help encourage businesses an investors to set up operations in the West Midlands.
As part of this activity, the Growth Company is holding a Data Driven Healthcare showcase day on Tuesday 2nd August. In the morning, there will be a classroom style session (maximum 30 delegates or so) where there will be several presentations showcasing regional key assets and company case studies, followed by a short panel discussion. I have been asked to chair the panel session in my capacity as the Cluster’s representative.
Digital Health Hub Pilot
UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) together with Innovate UK has announced an £8M fund to set up two or more digital health hub pilots. You can read the call for expressions of interest on UKRI’s website.
Although a first meeting of regional stakeholders reached a consensus that the region should unite behind a single regional bid, two separate Expressions of Interest are being developed by the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick.
This outcome is disappointing as there was such strength of commitment to the idea of a single bid in the initial discussion. I have continued to press for a coordinated approach and it is not too late for the stakeholders to back a single, collaborative, regional bid.
Intelligence suggests that the amounts likely to be allocated for the successful digital health hub pilots will be at a level of £1.5-£2M. Collaborative bids are expected and input from HDR UK will be sought.
Despite the disappointing outcome of the meeting, it was agreed that the Cluster’s role as an impartial convener is valuable.
WEST MIDLANDS REGION NEWS
Birmingham Tech Week
Here is advance notice of this year’s Birmingham Tech Week. The event has just been announced to be held between 10th and 14th of October this year. What is really exciting is that one of these day’s will be dedicated to Health Tech subjects – and the Cluster has been asked to lead on putting the day together!
If you or your company would like to contribute, here is a great opportunity to showcase your products and services, take part in crucial debates about the future direction of the sector and help us set the agenda. Please get in touch with me to offer your help or put forward suggestions about what you want us to cover on the day.
Britishvolt chooses Hams Hall for £200M battery hub
Britishvolt has partnered with logistics real estate operator Prologis to build its UK battery cell scale-up facilities at Hams Hall in the West Midlands. We are already home to the internationally renowned battery ecosystem of WMG, Advanced Propulsion Centre and UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.
With a budget exceeding £200m, the plan looks to create upwards of 150 highly skilled, well-paid jobs. Britishvolt aims to link its existing Northumberland Gigaplant with a centrally located scale-up/technology hub. The “Battery Corridor” concept enhances the UK’s existing battery ecosystem and the Hams Hall site will spearhead new cell formats and electro chemistries to create higher performance, production ready, batteries of the future.
Incubators as engines of growth
Arising out of the roundtable, hosted by our Cluster and the GBSLP Growth Hub, that went ahead on 30th March, the Growth Hub and I have agreed a series of actions to keep up the momentum kick-started that day. One of these actions is to arrange for any organisation or business interested to visit Unit 9 at Birmingham’s Research Park to learn more about a new way of supporting small, new, businesses. If anyone reader would be interested in a visit to Unit 9, please let me know and I will arrange it. Read more here
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Vaccine Taskforce to merge with UKHSA and OLS
Following its success during the COVID-19 pandemic, the functions of the Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) will be embedded as a permanent part of government structures.
From October, the vaccine supply responsibilities of the VTF will move to UKHSA (the UK Health Security Agency) to establish a permanent function. Staff from the VTF will become part of a new directorate within UKHSA to ensure a smooth transition and embed learnings from the VTF.
Responsibility for the VTF onshoring programme will move to the OLS (the Office for Life Sciences), a joint unit of the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Read the news announcement here.
Help to Grow is still running
The Government’s Help to Grow scheme offers two kinds of support:
Help to Grow: Management Course
Help to Grow: Digital
It is possible to learn new skills, reach more customers and boost your profits at low, or no, cost to your business. The programme has been running since last Autumn. Chieck out how it works here.
Precision Health Technologies Accelerator
Cluster member PHTA is a new regional asset to support our growing health tech sector. This new business innovation facility, run most enthusiastically by Professor Gino Martini, is set to take centre stage in the new Birmingham Health Innovation Campus. Construction on Phase 1 is underway and you can see the first tower taking shape – PHTA will be occupying the top three floors.
The plan is to bring entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups together with the next generation of academic and clinical leaders, creating unique opportunities to commercialise ideas and accelerate the rapid development of cutting-edge therapies and technologies.
PHTA will provide innovators and small enterprises with access to the expertise, resources and infrastructure to enable translation of healthcare innovations – including phase I to III clinical trials and real-world evaluation. Check out the newest Accelerator’s website here.
I hope you enjoy reading my e-bulletin. Feel free to contact me personally with your feedback and suggestions for future activities at email@example.com
Executive Chair, June 2022