Manchester - a global platform for the transformation of healthcare delivery


Rowena Burns, Chief Executive of Manchester Science Partnerships and Chair of Health Innovation Manchester, on why Greater Manchester is a compelling investment opportunity for international medtech companies.

No single country, company, charity or public health organisation can claim to have all the answers to the challenges and opportunities facing the global health sector.

Universal issues such as disease control, antibiotic resistance and managing multiple conditions in an ageing population, are simply too big and complex to deal with in isolation. It is why events such as the annual MedTech Conference are so important.

Bringing together more than 1,000 companies, clinicians, innovators and regulators from across the planet, this event is essential for Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) and our colleagues from the Manchester delegation, led by MIDAS – Greater Manchester’s Inward Investment agency.

While the event offers excellent learning and networking opportunities, we have a clear and compelling message: thanks to the devolution of £6 billion p.a. health and social care expenditure to a single body, and the unique partnership between our world class universities, clinicians and the business community, Manchester is uniquely placed to provide a best-in-class business location for the medtech sector.  

Among the most captivating sessions at The MedTech Conference is a debate entitled ‘Tomorrow v Today’, which looks at the issues facing the healthcare sector now – and the opportunities such as Big Data and Precision Medicine, which will shape health and social care in the future and drive investment.

Manchester has exceptional skills in both these areas, which are undoubtedly going to shape tomorrow’s medicine. An interpreted health data infrastructure and analytical capabilities, combined with excellence in genomics and biomarker discovery, are aligned to shared priorities for improving the health of Manchester’s 3 million citizens.

Moreover, we are well placed to tackle the biggest challenge the medtech sector encounters - the lack of pace to translate innovation into actual clinical practice.  While this challenge has always been with us, it is more acute because of the increasing mismatch between supply and demand and the resources available.

This is a problem affecting all countries and it is attributable to the fact that we are living longer, that older people are more likely to have multiple health issues and also that out-of-hospital care services are very poorly developed.

It’s clear that medical technology companies have immense potential to address these challenges. They are driving innovation in diagnostic tools which allow health providers to get upstream of developing illnesses and combined with improvements in genomic medicine and precision medicine they are enabling more to be done in the effective prevention of ill health, and to better match treatments to patients.

The fact that digital technology is now such an everyday part of our lives means that healthcare provision will be turned on its head over the course of the next two decades.

I believe that we are now entering an era of greater partnership between healthcare providers and citizens. In Greater Manchester this spirit of partnership burns brighter than in many other locations. The historic devolution of Greater Manchester’s £6bn a year health and social care budget from Central Government in 2015 has unlocked a unique opportunity for medtech companies. A new partnership body, called Health Innovation Manchester, has been created to accelerate innovation in a health and care system covering three million citizens. With a devolved decision-making structure enabling accelerated adoption of innovations, Health Innovation Manchester is dedicated to partnering with industry to exploit this unique status in collaboration with world-class universities and clinicians.

I am sure it will be a huge frustration for many at The MedTech Conference that a successful trial or a pilot of a device in one city, region, or state (whether that be in the UK, USA, or other countries) doesn’t always mean it will be adopted wider in that area, and certainly not in other locations.

The opportunity that Greater Manchester has, and it’s the reason I believe that companies will  invest their business here, is the opportunity to get new products, innovations, drugs and therapies adopted at pace and scale in a way that we have never seen before.

Furthermore, Greater Manchester will be a trailblazer in changing how we pay for innovations. Like in many other places, industry innovators struggle with a system which rewards hospitals for the number of patients that they admit, rather than for keeping people out of hospital. Another of the unique measures that we can adopt in Greater Manchester, thanks to devolution, is develop funding models that take account of the total cost and benefits of health innovations, and allow the costs and benefits to be fairly apportioned across different parts of the provider spectrum.

The revolution in Big Data is another topic which I am sure will be high on the agenda at The MedTech Conference.

Developing citizen centric and citizen-centred data sets that allow public bodies and health providers to understand what is happening to a person right across the care pathway will mean we are not only better able to diagnose, but also to adjust treatments in real time, and ultimately better provide a range of different interventions and care that people need. This data provides an immensely rich resource for academics, researchers and industry to understand the causes of ill health to develop new methods of predicting and preventing disease, and also to evaluate the impact of different approaches towards treatment.

Furthermore, we are looking at a world where a combination of data analytics and genomics mean that we can be much more focused and person-specific in how we get ahead of the risk of ill health and then treat ill health.

This is clearly very exciting. In Greater Manchester it’s allowing us to bring together our university academics, who are working on genomics and developing biomarkers and other diagnostic tools of the future, to work more closely with industry and innovators.

At MSP, we are proud to be a business which is unique in its scale in the UK in terms of the number of life science and technology businesses we have on our campuses.

We are the UK’s largest science and technology park operator, providing a home to more than 300 innovative businesses and have over 2 million sq ft of clinical, laboratory and commercial space, with close physical access and strong intellectual and commercial ties to the largest clinical academic campus in Europe.

Our business is committed to providing the right environments for science and technology businesses to thrive, and to work collectively for the greater good of our city region. MSP is also a partner, alongside Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) and the North West’s innovation service for the NHS, TRUSTECH, in the MedTech Centre in Manchester. The MedTech Centre a dedicated incubator aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of new technologies in the NHS, and is located at our Manchester Science Park campus – part of the Oxford Road Manchester innovation district, an exceptional concentration of knowledge-intensive academic, clinical and entrepreneurial organisations, which thanks to its status as an Enterprise Zone, offers investors significant financial benefits.    

We look forward to meeting those attending The MedTech Conference in San Jose with our partners from Manchester, and if you’d like to meet with our MD, Tom Renn and Head of Sales, Matt Lee, at the Conference, please click here.