Manchester - providing solutions to MedTech challenges

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Tom Renn, Managing Director for Manchester Science Partnerships – previews The MedTech Conference in San Jose, USA.

In just a couple of weeks, healthcare sector leaders from around the world will gather in San Jose, California for The MedTech Conference 2017. There, key industry trends in medical technologies, including digital health, in vitro diagnostics, surgical tools and advanced imaging diagnostics will all be discussed.

That this event is taking place amidst the hills of the world’s greatest technology hub – Silicon Valley – is no coincidence. Now, more than ever, technological progress is driving advancements in healthcare. It is not just expert clinicians and researchers, but developers and product designers who hold the keys to solving some of the greatest health challenges of our time.

Our message to the medtech sector is that Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), and our partners in the city region, offer companies and investors a truly unique opportunity.

MSP is the UK’s leading science and technology park operator with over 2 million sq ft of space across three campuses, which are home to more than 300 high growth businesses and a unique community of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs. MSP campuses aren’t just the right places for healthcare technology businesses to base themselves, they have also expanded at the right time to ensure that businesses locating with us can benefit from the unique devolution of the region’s £6 billion p.a. health and social care budget to a single Greater Manchester wide partnership. This opportunity will see a system-wide streamlining approach for the adoption of innovation across Greater Manchester, where processes of the innovation cycle will be simplified and accelerated. Emerging research will be connected with industry innovators to bring ideas to reality faster, in line with the most pressing health and social care priorities of the 3 million population.

The creation of a new strategic organisation, Health Innovation Manchester – a partnership of universities, research bodies, NHS trusts, local government and commercial organisations like MSP, will ensure that new investors and partners to the city can maximise this opportunity.

There are around 3 million citizens in Greater Manchester requiring varying levels of healthcare and of course an ageing population. In addition, poor lifestyle choices and chronic conditions such as diabetes and poor mental health are putting further strain on already stretched resources. But Health Innovation Manchester has the potential to enable the planning and delivery of a not just fit-for-purpose, but world-leading model for citizen-centric healthcare.

This isn’t just about better management or better medicines – although of course they both play a part – it’s about adopting genuinely disruptive healthcare innovations that have the potential to change the way we think about healthcare. And what’s better, many of these technologies are being created right here in Greater Manchester by MSP customers.

What’s new in the market place?

Cancer has long been a focus of R&D investment for the medtech and pharma industries, and will no doubt continue to be for many years to come. With early and accurate detection key to survival rates, improved diagnostics is a real area of interest.

One MSP-based business already making a global impact in this area is Zilico, a medtech business which has developed a more accurate means of diagnosis for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), the precursor to cervical cancer.

Zilico’s ZedScan™ is a portable, handheld device that uses patented Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) to detect the development of CIN and cancer. For clinicians it helps better manage patients as it delivers a more accurate diagnosis. For healthcare providers, it will help better manage colposcopy referrals especially after the introduction of primary HPV testing and overall ensure better outcomes for patients. You can learn more about Zilico’s journey with MSP here.

MSP’s Manchester Science Park campus is also home to world leading molecular diagnostics companies like QIAGEN and pioneering company Lucid Innovation. Lucid is a leading product design and rapid prototyping specialist, which in partnership with MSP and Cisco now run a medtech makerspace that can support companies through product design, prototyping, light manufacturing, regulatory compliance and evaluation.

Another of the businesses located on MSP’s campuses is NorthWest EHealth - who are attending The MedTech Conference with us- is recognised as a world-leader for the way they enable organisations to better connect electronic healthcare data for use in public health and clinical trials – as demonstrated with their delivery of GSK’s sponsored Salford Lung Study in 2016, which was recognised as a world first. It’s not just about thinking of new ways to do things, it’s about new ways of thinking too.

Providing solutions to the challenges we face

All of these businesses are responsible for ideas or innovations that have the potential to be life-saving for individuals and game-changing for the healthcare sector, not just in Greater Manchester, but globally.

As a customer of Manchester Science Partnerships they are part of a supported and collaborative community, which we believe can help them to overcome some of the major challenges of the market place.

First among these challenges is that bringing a new product to market requires a lot of resources – time, money, R&D and human capital – with the reward coming much later (if it comes at all). This time-lag between investment and commercial return, and the fact that success isn’t guaranteed, can make attracting and maintaining levels of investment difficult. Life sciences innovators also have to contend with issues as diverse as carrying out research on humans and convincing clinicians of the worth of their products.

MSP and its partners in Manchester’s MedTech Centre incubator help medtech firms in the early stages of their development survive and thrive despite these challenges, providing affordable, state-of-the-art premises and a unique ecosystem that allows them to scale up and down as required.

Customers can also benefit from the knowledge exchange and support that comes with operating in close proximity to businesses in similar fields, as well as enjoying mentorship and commercialisation opportunities with global leaders. Our medtech start-up customers can also benefit from ready access to the city region’s universities, including The University of Manchester, which is ranked 34th in the world in the QS World University rankings.

By providing both intellectual and practical support, and easing some of the financial pressures on younger medtech and life science businesses, MSP helps both start-ups and more mature businesses navigate their way through the “funding valley of death”.

Despite the volatility and uncertainty prevalent in the global economy, we are confident in Manchester’s compelling offer to the world at The MedTech Conference.

12 months ago, we had just announced our intention to invest £60m in expanding our Citylabs campus in a joint venture between MSP and one of our shareholders, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT). A year on from this, and we have received planning permission for Citylabs 2.0 and 3.0 and are now preparing to start work to provide high-specification laboratory, clinical and office space located within Europe’s largest clinical academic campus, and one of the most influential NHS Foundation Trusts in the UK. Citylabs provides a home for new health and medtech products to be co-created for the benefit of patients and providers in the heart of Manchester’s innovation district, the ‘Oxford Road Corridor’, and will ensure that our unique community of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs continue to have the opportunities to shape not only Manchester’s future at the frontline of innovation in health, but also impact on a global scale.

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 myself and Head of Sales, Matt Lee, at the Conference, please click here.