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CLUSTER NEWS – October 2023

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What a success our event at Birmingham Tech Week was!

Our ‘Revolution of Digital Health‘ event during Birmingham Tech Week, partnered with AND Digital was a groundbreaking experience.

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Hosted at Bruntwood SciTech’s new state of the art Enterprise Wharf in the Innovation Quarter, we experienced the building’s innovative design elements which help to reduce its carbon footprint.

With over 400 expressions of interest to attend, those who were successful in getting their hands on a ticket found themselves immersed in an atmosphere charged with positive energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of shared purpose. 

Our event brought together a diverse array of thought leaders from the digital health ecosystem. Tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, and YouTube shared advancements in technologies, and their contribution to the digital health agenda nationally and globally. Deloitte and AND Digital added their take on specialist strategical insights, and a reminder of the bigger picture in HealthTech and Digital Health. 

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Regional NHS trusts, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provided examples of Digital Health innovations that are having a positive impact to patient care. 

The discussions centred around how innovations are shaping the future of healthcare in the region and beyond, emphasising the considerations in managing future changes and how collectively we are part of history!

In the Tech Zone people had the opportunity to see, touch and play with a diverse range of digital and health tech innovations. It gave us all insight to the sectors regional landscape with groundbreaking innovations in VR, Devices, AI in Health, Software applications and Drone technology.

“The future envisions a culture of self-care, where individuals take responsibility through monitoring. Wearable devices and sensors will collect data, alerting individuals and healthcare providers for timely check-ups, emphasising the importance of fitness, health, and lifestyle choices. Globally there is a race to reach the pinnacle of Digital Heath advancements, and the UK is at the forefront.”

Karen Taylor, UK Centre for Health Solutions Director, Deloitte:

Our event “The Revolution of Digital Health” not only celebrated the achievements of the present but also ignited a spark of curiosity and innovation that will undoubtedly shape the future of healthcare, making it more accessible, efficient, and patient-centric. The shared vision and passion exhibited during the event will undoubtedly continue to drive the digital health revolution narrative forward across the region and beyond, making a tangible difference in the lives of patients and healthcare providers alike.

We would love to continue the conversation in a series of follow up events next year. There is a real appetite for collective change, including the continuous learning of advances in technology and the challenges faced. Together we will make a difference – Stay tuned for our Digital healthcare revolution with a series of events to continue the conversation.

“Our region is ‘The golden ticket’ for innovation and research studies… various conditions and diseases are more prone in specific groups, making our diverse population a valuable asset for clinical trials and research.”

Fungai Ndemera, Founder, CheckUp Health:


The September Topical Tuesday featured Dr Vishaal Virani, Health of UK Health for You Tube with an amazing presentation about You Tube Health – a very exciting development and something we want the West Midlands to be associated with. There was no Topical Tuesday in October, we held our Birmingham Tech Week event instead.

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Our November Topical Tuesday – 07 November at 4.15pm – will feature Cliff Denett and Aline Charpentier of Bruntwood Sci Tech who will tell us about the company’s many commercial interests in the West Midlands and in particular the new BHIC No. 1 about to open next to University of Birmingham and Queen Eliabeth II Hospital at Selly Oak. For more information and to register to attend, click here.


We invite you to join us for the first Venturefest Mobile Hub! This is a new format brought to you by Venturefest West Midlands and the first event in the series will be in Dudley at the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO)!
During the event you will have the opportunity to hear from business leaders and from business support organisations, and to connect with other businesses, entrepreneurs, and support providers.
We also invite you to join us for post-event drinks and tour of facilities courtesy of the BCIMO.
More details coming soon, register your interest here.

HIWM Health Innovations West Midlands Stakeholder Conference.

Join Health Innovation West Midlands (HIWM) for our inaugural Stakeholder conference, showcasing how we work with our regional ecosystem to transform health and care through innovation.
Click here to find out more.


Strategy roundtable follow up

On 04 October, I hosted the roundtable to discuss a strategy for growing our region’s healthtech sector. I was delighted to have a top quality audience of business leaders, academics and other agencies as we discussed how to improve our support for, and promotion of, our sector. There was a genuine sense of excitement because people really did feel that our time has come for seizing our opportunities and growing our HealthTech ecosystem.

Since we held the roundtable, I have drafted a high-level, general statement of our vision for the sector and I will next share this with all the contributors to date for comment and suggestions for improvement. In due course, we should have a super statement of our aim and ambition, something we can all rally round.

West Midlands Innovation Accelerator

CleanTech, HealthTech and MedTech people in our region are set to share £30M+ spending between now and March 2025. Last month, I referred you to the two Connected Places Catapult programmes, DIATOMIC and Clean Futuresis month, I am delighted to refer you to the WMHTIA programme, the biggest of the projects, led by University of Birmingham.

There are great offers of help, including free support services and grants, and the criteria are widely drawn – this programme will be helping innovators as widely as possible. Contact Emma and Ahmar if you need any specific information about the programme or any help with introductions.

West Midlands Investment Zones

The Mayor and stakeholders are in the advanced stages of their negotiations with the Government over the locations of what are likely to be three Investment Zones in the West Midlands: Coventry Gigafactory, Birmingham Knowledge Quarter and Black Country Green Corridor. Between them, these three Zones will attract £80M of public funding over 5 years. In addition, the Coventry Council will benefit from being allowed to retain the Business Rates paid by businesses locating in the Zone for up to 25 years. In all three Zones, there will be tax benefits for businesses locating in them – see the Government’s Investment Zones Prospectus for details. There is also a very strong endorsement of CLUSTERS in the Prospectus.


Business Energy Advice Service

At the end of October, the new Business Energy Advice Service, an arm of  Business Growth WM , was launched. It can provide SMEs – operating anywhere in the West Midlands region, with a free energy audit and advice on reducing energy consumption and reducing their carbon footprint.

The service is offering over 4,000 free energy assessments to small businesses across the West Midlands. This is not just Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but all the region – so businesses in Worcestershire and the Marches, Warwickshire and Stoke and Staffordshire can also benefit.

The assessments will provide recommendations for energy reduction, helping to reduce costs. Then after a business has undertaken an energy assessment then there will be an opportunity to apply for a grant for commercial and industrial SMEs to facilitate investment in energy efficiency measures.


I attended the first meeting of a working group which is looking how we might make our region an exemplar in embedding equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) decision-making of businesses.

This is an opportunity for stakeholders within the West Midlands’ innovation ecosystem to collectively define, discuss, and direct how, when, and where ESG and EDI can become embedded in innovating businesses and organisations, both as:

Inputs – described intentionally and implemented as a series of environmental, social, and governance related challenges by design; and

Outputs – scored initially using a self-certification process (1-yr), which transitions (over 2-5yrs) into a formal bespoke ESG/EDI Framework and dashboard, which profiles and showcases a set of explicit ‘regional societal challenges’ and KPI’s. This should include investment against each ESG pillar, delivering specific ESG/EDI outputs, outcomes, and impact.

Contact me if you would like to know more about this work or you would be interested in contributing to the work.

Innovation in social care

The Government has highlighted Tribe, an initiative of WM company and cluster member Bronze Labs, as a national innovation priority for the country. See priority number 9 – digital workforce development.

The Government has also announced an Accelerating Reform Fund of £42.6m to support innovation in local areas to boost quality and accessibility of adult social care in England. Local authorities in collaboration with a consortium of partners in their integrated care system area (one consortium per ICS) are invited to submit their expression of interest to DHSC by 12 January 2024.

Potentially, the entire West Midlands can commission The Tribe Project directly from government funding:

•     EOI opens: 24 October 2023
•     SCIE webinar on EOI: 14 November 2023
•     SCIE webinar on EOI: 27 November 2023
•     Deadline for return of EOIs: 12 January 2024
•     Final funding amounts confirmed: 9 February 2024
•     MOUs agreed and signed: 16 February 2024



If you are interested to know what apprenticeships are available, backed by public funding, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education produces a table of all the approved apprenticeships under various sector headings including health and science.

Let me know if you need any help navigating the apprenticeship system.

UK Smart grants

Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme. It supports SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid economic return to the UK.

Innovate UK is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and world-leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation. Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector.

Your proposal must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion. You must be or involve at least one grant-claiming micro or SME.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively, net zero, the arts, design and media.

Total project costs must be between £100,000 and £2m. 

Your proposal must show:

•     A game-changing, innovative and disruptive idea that will lead to new products, processes or services.
•     An idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation.
•     Clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy.
•     A clear, evidence based business plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion.
•     Why Smart funding is the right potential funding for your project, and the journey you have already been on to reach the point of application.
•     A team with the necessary skills and expertise to deliver the project successfully and on time, and to achieve rapid commercialisation.
•     Awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk.
•     Sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, including the funding of post-project activities.
Innovate UK will favour projects that are close to commercialisation and offer excellent export opportunities. 

Deadline: 11am on 17th January 2024

International Trade Week 6-10 November

Registration is now open for the Government’s International Trade Week from 6th to 10th November 2023. There are in-person and online events – and other organisations are encouraged to organise their own events during the week. The aim is to build up export knowledge and skills and to make businesses aware of practical help for their exporting efforts. See ITW2023 for full details of the programme and how to register for events. See the ITW2023 webpage for more information and to register your interest.

Spotlight on

Bruntwood’s major new investment deal

This month Bruntwood SciTech announced half a billion pounds of new investment into Bruntwood SciTech in support of the growth of science, technology and innovation. Both existing shareholders, Bruntwood and Legal & General, have doubled down on their commitment to invest for the long term in these sectors and the business, and have done so via additional capital injection and asset transfer. The new investment will enable and accelerate the next phase of our growth and create a £5 billion UK-wide portfolio that can support 2,600 high-growth businesses by 2032.

Additionally, Greater Manchester Pension Fund, the largest local authority pension fund in the UK, has become a shareholder in Bruntwood SciTech, investing £150 million in the business.

Bruntwood SciTech becomes the UK’s largest property platform for the innovation economy, with £1.5bn of assets spanning a 4.8M sq ft portfolio of nine campuses and 31 city centre innovation hubs. GMPF’s investment is the first local government pension scheme to make a direct and active investment of its kind and scale into a UK-wide specialist property platform.

You can read the full story on Bruntwood’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 david@wmhtc.co.uk


Executive Chair.

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