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Support for businesses in the West Midlands

Recent developments that will be positive for business support in our region include:

  • WMCA Co-investment Fund – £25 million investment fund launched to help grow region’s industries of the future. The Combined Authority and West Midlands Pension Fund are together putting up the funding to provide innovative businesses (SMEs) with equity of up to £1m.
  • Business Growth West Midlands – a new organisation forged out of the relevant Growth Hubs from the LEPs the LEPs themselves are being disbanded. Expert advisors will provide tailored guidance on running a business, finance, skills and sustainability. The new service has its own website.
  • Innovation Accelerator projects (£30M spend over the next 2 years) – projects covering CleanTech, HealthTech and MedTech in the West Midlands, we are waiting for service website to be launched and will be posting baout it as soon as it is ready.
  • As I reported last month, Emma will be part of the Virtual Innovation Team (VIT), supporting the ongoing work of the WM Innovation Programme 2.0. Emma and all the VIT members will focus on engaging businesses in innovation across sectors – it will help to build and connect the innovative HealthTech industry in the West Midlands across the Primary and Nascent Clusters identified in the WM Plan for Growth. Feel free to contact Emma for further information: emma@wmhtc.co.uk


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On Tuesday 9th May, our regular Topical Tuesday featured Gareth Stokes from solicitors DLA Piper who explained very clearly what AI means and how it is being applied in health and social care. As a lawyer, Gareth was excellent is setting out the risks involved, the precautions to take when engaging with AI and the regulation of AI we can expect going forward. If you couldn’t attend, you could watch a recording here, and see Gareth’s presentation here.

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The next Topical Tuesday, on 13th of June will feature Dr. Michael Watts, Co-founder and CEO of Blüm Health, he will be talking to us about their journey, and how Blüm Health are helping Break down barriers to Digital Health, read more here.

IHWG Event – June 2023

Around the UK, populations are getting older, and their health needs are becoming more complex. At the same time, technological advances are changing healthcare delivery. This time, the Innovative Health Working Group explores how hospitals will innovate in the coming decade—and what it will mean for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Our next working group will take place on Thursday 22 June . This time the focus is ‘hospital of the future’
Our hosts, University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire will share a number of innovative solutions and we will hear from special guest speakers.
Register for this event here.

We are currently planning the programme for this year’s HealthTech Day during Birmingham Tech Week. Please Save the Date – 19th October – and look out for further announcements about reserving a place at Health Day events. Last year, we were fully booked up and had a waiting list!


PHTA and Oxford Science Enterprises join forces

The Precision Health Technologies Accelrator (PHTA), a cluster member run by Professor Gino Martini, has announced a new partnership with Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) designed to help grow innovative HealthTech businesses. The partnership will focus on helping high-growth health technology and life sciences companies to scale, primarily through access to high-quality lab and innovation space, while also catalysing cross-regional collaboration between academics and enterprises.

PHTA is going to be located in the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, a 10-acre science park which is being delivered in partnership between UoB and Bruntwood SciTech later this year. It will be a life sciences research accelerator, where entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups collaborate with clinical-academic specialists with the aim of rapidly translating and commercialising cutting-edge therapies and technologies.

OSE is an independent investment company created in 2015 to build transformational businesses through its unique partnership with the University of Oxford. Actively focused on a core portfolio of around 40 companies – spanning across life sciences, health tech and deep tech – OSE goes well beyond funding by providing access to advisers, specialists and state-of-the-art lab and start-up space to help founders turn cutting-edge ideas into successful businesses.

PING (Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group)

I have been approached by a firm of solicitors in Birmingham called VWV to ask if cluster members might be interested in joining PING. This networking group was formed by VWV from its Watford office and so it currently covers Hertfordshire. According to a website for PING, membership is free. I would be grateful to hear from anyone who thinks it would be useful to extend this partocular network to cover the West Midlands.

In addition, PING is holding an Annual Conference on Monday 19 June 2023 in Hertfordshire. There is a charge for attendance but I have also been asked to say to you that you are welcome to book to attend the conference and get to know more about PING if you wish. Please see this Eventrbrite booking page.

Digital working in adult social care: what good looks like

The Department of Health and Social Care has developed guidance on ‘what good looks like’ for social care technology. What Good Looks Like (WGLL) for adult social care aims to bring the needs of local authorities and care providers into one coherent piece of guidance to develop understanding of what they need to do to work well digitally.

The guidance has been developed by the NHS Transformation Directorate.

New Every Mind Matters campaign

Better Health – Every Mind Matters from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) is launching a new campaign to encourage the nation to make the first move for their mental health and get active.

Physical activity releases feel good hormones and improves mental health but, according to research, less than half of adults are aware that it’s proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety (45%), reduce stress (45%) and distract from negative thoughts (42%). Four in 10 adults are not doing the NHS-recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. The research revealed that those who do regular physical activity report that it helps to boost their mood (68%), confidence (61%) and relieve anxious feelings (61%).

Delivered by OHID, the campaign offers NHS-approved tips and advice to help people manage their anxiety, including links to free NHS apps, such as Couch to 5K and Active 10, that will help them make the first move. The Better Health – Every Mind Matters website also gives people the opportunity to sign up to anxiety-easing emails, offering expert advice to help them stay on top of their mental wellbeing and show them how to make these new steps part of their routine.


WM5G is keeping us ahead in connectivity

The West Midlands still leads the way on 5g coverage nationally, with two-thirds of locations in our region having access to 5G from at least one network operator. This represents a tripling of coverage since December 2021. This exceeds other regions, which typically have 5G coverage across less than half of their geographies. For WM5G’s role in this success to date, read about its part in the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator.

The Innovation Awards

Voting is not OPEN and its simple, all you need to do is fill in the from through their website.
You can vote for only one nominee per award. You do not have to vote in every award.

Bruntwood are Hiring

This is for a new role to drive the formation of a new community of Lifescience businesses at their new BHIC campus. It is a really great opportunity for an Innovation Programme Manager, find out more here

WMCA Mayor’s Business Insights Forum

I have now attended my first two meetings of the Mayor’s new Business Insights Forum, meeting monthly to connect with representatives of key clusters and sectors. Key discussions so far have included Electric Light Vehicles and batteries, the West Midlands Investment Zone, our region’s new Tech Commissioner, Martin Ward, the WM Industrial Energy Taskforce and “Shape the Future”, the new Create Central strategy for growing our creatives sector.

So far, I have asked about how the HealthTech sector can get involved in designing our region’s Investment Zone and how we can best scale up the most innovative businesses and ideas. At a future meeting, I will be asked to give a presentation about our region’s HealthTech sector.

Midlands Mindforge

Across the Midlands (i.e. East and West together), eight research-intensive universities have come together to create capital investment company – Midlands Mindforge Ltd – which aims to raise £250M to transform R&D into successful businesses. The eight universities are: Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick, collectively called Midlands Innovation.

It is early days to see the difference this will make but it looks like being a real game-changer for the Midlands. I found this announcement on Loughborough’s website.

All Cylinders – a new Centre for Cities report

A new report from Centre for Cities, commissioned by the Midlands Engine finds that with UK average productivity the economy of the Midlands would be £18bn a year better off. Interesting findings include:

  • Manufacturing is performing as well as can be expected;
  • Services are under-performing on productivity; and
  • City Centres are where Services with potential for growth are best located (perhaps no surprise given the organisation writing the report).

There are recommendations for Midlands Engine on skills and transport, amongst others. See Centre for Cities’ website for details.


Innovation loans future economy competition: round nine

Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Your project must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

The Closing Date for applications is 07 July 2023.

Future-proofing Future Health Research

A new report by the Academy of Medical Sciences sounds a warning about potentially loss of the UK’s leading position in global health research. It identifies some worrying issues for the UK, including barriers, movement of people between sectors and lack of support. There are four key recommendations:

  • Place people at the heart of the UK health research system.
  • Ensure talented people can develop careers that span sectors.
  • Ensure that the true cost of excellent health research is adequately covered.
  • Maximise the research potential of the NHS.

The report is worth reading for its analysis and its discussion of how the UK must respond if we are to keep our standing as a leading global player in health research.

New plan to make it easier for people to see their GP

GP practices across England will also be given £240 million this year to embrace the latest technology, replacing old analogue phones with modern systems so patients never get engaged tones and easy-to-use online tools to ensure patients get the care they need as soon as possible.

This will mean that when patients contact their practice online or over the phone they will know on the day they make contact how their query will be managed, rather than being told to call back later. If their need is urgent, they will be assessed and given appointments on the same day. If it is not urgent, appointments should be offered within 2 weeks, or patients will be referred to NHS 111 or a local pharmacy.

Read more here.

Spotlight on

Minerva Business Angels

Minerva are a part of the University of Warwick Science Park, they are a network of Business Angels with ten investment groups based in the Midlands, London, and Northwest. We work as a network of individuals with likeminded goals meeting regularly to discuss opportunities.

Through their institutional collaborations with the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Loughborough, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, John Moores and Warwick Business School – London the Business Angels deliver investment groups and help facilitate access to any available support from these great institutions.  With collaborators Sci-Tech Daresbury and Black Country Growth Hub, they have further extended our coverage and local support.

Minerva made the Top Ten of Top 2022 Cleantech funders – the most active investors into Cleantech Companies by number of deals made in 222. Many congratulations to you, Alexis Toft, and all your colleagues!

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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