CLUSTER NEWS – MAY 2022
Here Come the Commonwealth Games
It has been so satisfying to have made such a strong start in our first year. We are seeing a growing interest in membership from the region’s health tech businesses, we have strategic partners who want to work with us and we are finding that there is an interest in sponsoring some of our activities. We have aVery soon now the eyes of the UK, the countries of the Commonwealth and most likely the rest of the world will be on Birmingham for this year’s premier sports event. Screen viewers will see Birmingham locations, sports venues and advertisements. Sports fans will throng the City as they spend their time in sports locations, restaurants and hotels.
There will be business opportunities galore. For health technologies businesses in the West Midlands, there may be business-to-business encounters, advertising opportunities and new networks to develop. The UK Government will in Centenary Square hosting UK House, a venue for businesses to make their pitches, meet potential customers and learn more about markets overseas.
In Government, it is DIT (the Department for International Trade) which leads. In Birmingham, it is the WM Growth Company. And for local health technologies businesses, if you want to know more it is me you should contact!
May’s Topical Tuesday featured representatives of WM5G bringing us up to date with the roll-out of 5G in the West Midlands and some of the innovative applications in the health technologies sector. Doctors can screen for bowel cancer by asking patients to swallow a capsule containing a micro camera in the comfort of their own homes. Paramedics can transmit ahead of their enabled ambulance’s arrival at hospital the vital signs of their patients. Adrian Smith from WM5G is a great friend of the cluster and he is always available to give advice about 5G applications. The West Midlands is an original test bed for 5G and this status has helped put us in the position we hold today having the greatest 5G coverage of all the UK’s nations and regions.
June’s Topical Tuesday will feature Jamie Elliott from West Midlands Combined Authority who will explain how our region is proposing to spend its share of the £100M set aside by the UK Government for three new Innovation Accelerators in Glasgow, the Northwest and the West Midlands. It was one of the few new spending commitments contained in February’s Levelling Up White Paper. Come to this session and hear the latest on what an Innovation Accelerator will mean for our region.
Register Now to attend this event, Click here
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.
The Innovation Awards
You are invited to place your vote for the 2022 Innovation Awards using the below form.
You do not have to vote in every category. If you do not wish to vote in a category, just click on “next category”.
Complete your details and press submit for your vote to be counted. Click here to Vote.
The next meeting of the Innovative Health Working Group will be held on 15th June at Aston University and will showcase some of the exciting innovations happening on campus in relation to life sciences and health tech.
Register Now to attend this event, Click here
Data and Devices: How the NHS Can Help You Develop Your Product.
DEMAND Hub are holding this virtual event to engage with SMEs that are in, or looking to enter the healthcare sector.
We have lined up a panel of experts to speak at the event and to participate in a live Q&A, on 6th July 2022 from 10.00 – 14.00 BST.
Feel free to circulate onto any contacts who may be interested.
If you are interested in this opportunity but are unable to attend, please feel free to get in touch with email@example.com and we will be happy to answer any questions or provide further information, including a copy of the resource once launched.
Register Now to attend, Click here
HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES SECTOR NEWS
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.
I was asked if I would take a lead in exploring whether all the key players in the West Midlands would be willing to participate in a single collaborative application to be submitted on behalf of our region. I convened a meeting this month and it was very encouraging because everyone present agreed that a single application would be welcome. Currently, a small team is writing an outline of a possible application for consideration by the wider group. In due course, I will extend the engagement to a wider audience of interested parties.
Aston University Spin Out
A spin-out company Aston Particle Technologies has completed a £1m funding round led by DSW Ventures. Many congratulations!
Aston Particle Technologies has a developed a novel technology known as iDPC, a tuneable blending process which is designed to simplify the formulating of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the process of producing drugs. The Company says it “makes the unmanufacturable manufacturable”.
The funding will be used to scale-up Aston Particle Technologies’ capabilities to accelerate partnerships with pharmaceutical groups and contract development and manufacturing organisations, as well as to expand its product development and commercial teams.
2022/2023 Young Innovators
Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Awards 2022/23 will be opening on the 13th of June and, on the 14th of June, they will be hosting a briefing event that will provide information about the awards, eligibility criteria, the application process and timelines. This year, Innovate UK is anticipating to award up to 100 young people from diverse backgrounds with a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching, and a two days a week allowance to cover living costs.
If you are interested, or know someone who might be interested, details about registration for the briefing event can be found here on Innovate UK’s KTN website.
WEST MIDLANDS REGION NEWS
Birmingham City Council
After local elections this month, the City Council remains Labour-controlled and the Leader of the Council is once again Cllr Ian Ward. The Deputy Leader continues to be Cllr Brigid Jones.
Shared Prosperity Fund
The Shared Prosperity Fund will replace the current EU structural funds and will be phased in from 2022/23 to 2024/25. The fund will support projects and programmes contributing to Levelling Up missions and objectives in the fields of:
- Employment and skills;
- Business support; and
- Community and place – environment, culture, local infrastructure.
In the West Midlands, the Shared Prosperity Fund will be administered by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), probably through a mix of commissioning, grant funding and competitive bidding. It is likely that some funding will be passed down to Birmingham City Council and other constituent local authorities to administer – however, the process for distributing this funding will not be set up until later in the year.
WMCA will be submitting an Investment Plan to national government setting out how they intend to use Shared Prosperity funding and what funding might be distributed to local authorities or become available to local organisations through a bidding process. My understanding is that this is still at a very early stage and will not be submitted until July.
Following approval of this Investment Plan from national government, any funding that is available for local organisations to bid for will be announced during the autumn.
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
Clearing the NHS backlog caused by the pandemic
The UK Government has published its response to the report of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee. In part, the Government states that: “We do not intend to go back to business as usual before 2020. As such, we are embarking on transforming health and social care services through the Health and Care Bill and focusing on three key pillars”.
These three pillars are stated to be:
- Become better at preventing healthcare needs developing in the first place and promote good health for all.
- Empower people to be in control of their own care and ensure that it is delivered in family, primary and community settings where possible.
- Ensure services are delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible when treatment is needed, delivering world class care.
In my view, these three pillars all offer support to businesses who have innovative ideas for products and services and who wish to sell into the NHS. It might be helpful to quote any, or all, these when engaging with NHS organisations. You can find the full response here.
Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative Recycled Fund
Loans of at least £0.5M are available to single SME applicants in England for Capital Expenditure, R&D and Training and other project related costs. The borrower can be operating anywhere in the advanced manufacturing supply chain, including suppliers and innovators. The maximum repayment term is 5 years. Find out more here.
University of Wolverhampton Science Park
Cluster member University of Wolverhampton Science Park is full of technological and creative businesses. It offers Office Accommodation, Workshop and Laboratory Space, Meeting Rooms and Boardroom Access, and Business Start-up Support.
The cluster organisation recently co-hosted, with University of Wolverhampton Science Park, a dinner for diagnostics businesses and their stakeholders, including supply chain partners. These businesses, often small and young, will be beneficiaries if together we can harness the might of the whole cluster to overcome the challenges they face. This meeting attracted a wide range of diagnostics businesses, some having been operating in the sector for decades. As a result of the evening’s discussion there was realisation that there is potential and willingness to bring some elements of current supply chains closer to home that will have benefits in term of quality, resilience and economic growth in the region.
However, for this to be achieved better information-sharing is needed about local capabilities, capacity and assets. The cluster should lead in putting in place a mechanism to facilitate introductions proactively. DIAGCOMM is the ideal vehicle to do this because it is independent and well-connected – for example, colleagues at Rosalind Franklin Laboratory have offered to support this activity.
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
Executive Chair, May 2022