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CLUSTER NEWS – November 2023

What skills framework do we want for HealthTech WM?

I am in discussion with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) about how some of its annual budget for skills of £164M can best be spent to support growth in our region’s HealthTech sector.

Areas of activity where I have said businesses would appreciate support have so far included:

  • Support for new recruits’ skills below Level 6 (first degree level)
  • Apprenticeships
  • Bootcamps
  • Skills development in-work, including leadership upskilling
  • Lab environment readiness
  • Knowledge of regulation and skills for specialist regulation roles.

We have tentatively agreed that it would be helpful to develop, with the sector, a skills framework to set out some guidelines – and boundaries – for businesses and the WMCA respectively. Ideally, the WMCA and WMHTC can also engage with universities and colleges about delivery programmes.

I would be interested to receive ideas and suggestions from readers about what I have developed so far and what you think should happen in our region to support upskilling of a suitable workforce for HealthTech businesses.

Please email me at david@wmhtc.co.uk with your contributions.


Nov 2023 tt thankyou

The November Topical Tuesday featured two presenters from Bruntwood SciTech, Cliff Dennett and Aline Charpentier with an update on BHIC (due to open Q1 in 2024) as well as news of recent major investment in Bruntwood and what it means for the company’s activities in the West Midlands.
Did you miss the event, click here to access the recording instead!


On the 15th of December, the University of Warwick has organised an event about- Building a Sustainable UK Diagnostic Sector III.
This conference is the third in the series and will focus on cancer diagnostics. It will explore novel approaches to cancer diagnosis using various technologies such as liquid biopsies, imaging and digital pathology.
Find out more here.

wmhtia launch

West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator Launch

Bruntwood SciTech ​​is joining the University of Birmingham and several other organisations from across the region in a project to drive new healthcare technologies towards commercialisation. 

Called the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator (WMHTIA), the project has received £14 million in funding from the West Midlands Combined Authorities’ Innovation Accelerator which is part of an Innovate UK funded programme. 

The project is focused on addressing the challenges of bringing new medical and healthcare technologies into the UK market. It aims to unite key players in universities, hospitals, industry and government-funded ‘Catapults’ for manufacturing innovation to help companies navigate ‘pinch-points’ in the commercialisation process. Find out more here.


Strategy roundtable follow up

On 04 October, I hosted the roundtable to discuss a strategy for growing our region’s healthtech sector. There was a top quality discussion on the day and many contributors also posted further comments afterwards on our online Miro board (set up especially for this event).

Since we held the roundtable, I have drafted a document which I am now calling a “roadmap” which currently contains my suggestion for a Vision Statement and five “missions” for our sector to take on between now and 2030. This draft is currently with WMCA for comment before it comes out to all the stakeholders who have to date contributed or expressed an interest in contributing.

West Midlands Innovation Accelerator

A lot of work was done behind the scenes to get the West Midlands HealthTech Innovation Accelerator up and running. Finally, in this preparatory work, a new website has been launched where businesses can find out all they need to know about the programme – including how to secure business support and/or grants.

Take a look at the website and tell me and the team what you think. Let us know if you need any help to progress your engagement with the Accelerator team.

Third Annual Diagnostics Conference at University of Warwick
Friday 15 December, 2023 – 10:00am – 2.30pm – In-person event only
Location: University of Warwick Oculus Building – Lecture Theatre OC0.05

This conference is the third in the series and will focus on cancer diagnostics. It will explore novel approaches to cancer diagnosis using various technologies such as liquid biopsies, imaging and digital pathology. Our regional strengths in these approaches will be showcased and the focus is to consider how best to exploit these developments as we continue to build a world-leading diagnostics sector in the West Midlands.

As before, this event will bring together key stakeholders from across the NHS, academia, and industry to explore how we can enhance cross-sector collaboration to turbo-charge local growth by building the infrastructure necessary for the development and implementation of innovative diagnostics. With a focus on our distinctive expertise in diagnostics, we will consider how best to exploit these assets to create a sustainable and internationally-recognised activity in the West Midlands.

You can register for this event (free to attend) here.


Global Growth Programme

High growth West Midlands tech companies are being invited to apply for a 12-month export support initiative, fully funded by the West Midlands Growth Company and the West Midlands Combined Authority. This initiative is the result of a unique partnership with London & Partners – London’s official investment promotion agency – and sees their “Grow Global” programme expanded beyond the capital for the first time.

Grow Global is a world-leading programme with a proven track record of success, having helped over 1,300 scaleups, including household names such as Monzo, Brompton Bicycles, Mr & Mrs Smith and Bloom & Wild in reaching their global expansion goals. Now, ten ambitious, export ready West Midlands scale-ups will be selected for the programme and will receive a comprehensive package of support designed to accelerate their international growth.

Benefits include:

•        Partnership opportunities
•        International business development
•        Expert advice and guidance
•        Development workshops
•        Events

I you believe you meet the criteria for this programme you must act fast. Space is limited to just 10 companies, so register your interest today to avoid missing out!

Regional Innovation Fund – Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University has received a Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) grant which must be spent within this financial year 2023-24. Funds must be used for knowledge exchange (activities must involve an external partner), and specifically must be used for activities focussed particularly on business

engagement and that further economic growth and productivity, and these activities must be addressing local/regional priorities.

This RIF grant may be used for revenue and capital expenditure. Capital use may include the purchase of equipment expressly for the purpose of knowledge exchange activities with external partners in line with fund priorities.

I have been asked if I can help the University identify businesses to work with using this grant. Is anyone interested? If so, please let me know as soon as possible.

5GIR Innovation Regions

WM5g, now part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has won a share of the £40m 5G Innovation Regions competition. Over £3M will come to the West Midlands, which will help Level Up the region and accelerate economic growth.

By becoming a 5G Innovation Region we will overcome barriers and boost productivity, skilled jobs, health and wellbeing, while reducing emissions in two of our most important sectors where the West Midlands has clear strengths – advanced manufacturing and ‘smart communities’ (which covers social care, social housing, and other related local services).

As WM5G mobilise the project and set out its plans for delivery, they will be engaging with partners across the region.


Global Incubator Programme – Healthtech

Date: June 2024
Location: Houston, Texas
Closing date for applications: 12 January 2024
Hosted by Innovate UK

Innovate UK’s Global Incubator Programme is an acceleration programme for innovative companies to work with world-leading incubators abroad. They are currently accepting applications for up to 16 innovative companies in the digital health and medical device sectors to join our programme. The programmes is delivered in partnership with the Texas Medical Centre (TMC), Houston, USA.

Applications are welcomed from innovative companies who could be developing technologies across a broad range of Healthtech sectors, register your interest here.

Accelerating Reform Fund

I reported last month that local business Bronze Labs has been identified by the Department for Health & Social Care as a priority for investment for the Department’s Social Care Priority 9: digital workforce development and market shaping tools with capability to map, strengthen and grow local workforce capacity relative to system demand.

It is now possible for a local West Midlands consortium to obtain funding built around this Priority – see the Department’s Guidance to Local Authorities.

An Expression of Interest has to be submitted by a Local Authority on behalf of a consortium by 12th January. I can put you in touch with Bronze Labs if you want to discuss whether this opportunity is suitable for you and your business.

Made in the UK, Sold to the World Awards 2024

The Made in the UK, Sold to the World Awards are your opportunity to receive recognition for the exceptional growth your business has achieved by trading internationally. 

You can apply to any one of the following ten categories:

•        Agriculture, Food & Drink
•        Consultancy & Professional Services
•        Creative Industries
•        Education & EdTech
•        Financial Services & FinTech
•        Healthcare
•        Infrastructure & Engineering
•        Low Carbon Energy
•        Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing & Construction
•        Retail & Consumer Goods

Visit DBT’s website for more information, including eligibility to enter, and to submit your entry. The closing date for entries is Sunday 14th January 2024.

Spotlight on

Cluster Peer Support in West Midlands

In the Combined Authority’s Plan for Growth, eight areas of economic activity are identified as offering our region potential for exceptionally strong growth. HealthTech is one such area and as a result, the Combined Authority supports our Cluster Organisation to promote HealthTech growth in wealth and job creation. The Combined Authority also supports a cluster grouping in each of the other seven areas.

The eight cluster groupings now come together regularly in order to assess how we are doing, to learn from each other’s successes and to look for cross-sector opportunities for growth. We last met on 16th November when we discussed the clusters’ interactions with our region’s inward investment organisation, WM Growth Company and the sole business support organisation, Business Growth  WM.

Recently, the elected mayor, Andy Street, also arranged a special meeting of us all with the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, Franck Petitgas. We met at JLR Coventry where Franck was beginning a day of engagements in our region to learn more about our regional economy. I was able to have a meaningful exchange with Franck about the strengths of our HealthTech sector and in what ways we would appreciate support from central government.

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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