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20 March, 2019 - 07:18 By Tony Quested

MedTech innovators handed scale-up roadmap

MedTech pioneers in the Cambridge and East of England life science nexus have been handed a nationally co-ordinated roadmap to help them negotiate the innovation maze and accelerate scale-up opportunities.

Innovators in the sector have never had a better chance to exploit a multi-billion pound market within the NHS alone.

But a new report from the UK’s Academic Health Science Networks in partnership with the Association of British HealthTech Industries says a sharper strategy is needed to fast-track the entry, adoption and spread of innovations for the benefit of patients and to stimulate commercial success.

The report uses the network’s inside track intel of the NHS ecosystem to outline how technologies need to be incorporated into a revamped new model to demonstrate impact and value.

It highlights an integrated approach necessary to supporting MedTech innovations, including checklists and practical steps for each aspect of the pathway, including creation, development, regulation, evaluation, market access, commissioning and adoption.

MedTech is a high growth sector for UK plc with jobs up 17 per cent in the last 10 years; Cambridge and the East of England are acknowledged as notable hotspots in UK and international terms.

The East of England employs 16.2 per cent of total national life sciences employees, with 1,235 people having joined the region’s core MedTech sector between 2009 and 2017 – and Cambridge is the largest technology cluster in Europe, the report notes.

As the NHS now spends £6 billion a year on MedTech, there are significant growth opportunities for local and national players.

Piers Ricketts, vice-chair of the AHSN Network and CEO of the Eastern Academic Health Science Network said it was an exciting time for the MedTech industry as innovative solutions to meet pressing healthcare needs had never been in greater demand.

“Indeed, in the East of England alone, 27 additional life sciences sites were established between 2009 and 2017 to meet that demand. Furthermore, successive improvements in national policy have helped to support the sector, including the commitments in the Accelerated Access Review and recent NHS Long Term Plan4 to create a new funding climate.

“However, our report has identified that in addition to securing finance and supporting policy there is a need for practical advice and support to help the industry thrive.”

As the only organisations designed to connect all partners across the sector – NHS, academia, local authorities, the third sector industries and citizens – AHSNs are ideally placed to help MedTech innovators whose advances often sit at areas of convergence between industries including biotech, telecoms, AI and consumer wellbeing.

Ricketts said: “The health and science infrastructure in the UK, particularly here in the East of England with our exceptional science and academic base, is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunities for economic growth and improved patient outcomes created by MedTech. However, there is a risk of companies getting lost as they navigate the innovation maze.

“Within this report we have set out how, as a network, we can help developers navigate through a MedTech innovation pathway to support patients, clinicians in the East of England and UK plc.”

• The MedTech Landscape Review can be accessed at ahsnnetwork.com

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