By Julie Nixon
Last week I attended another excellent event organised by BioCity Scotland entitled “MedTech Momentum”. An appreciative audience got to hear several success stories from Scottish MedTech companies, and also received valuable insight into what funding is available for Scottish SMEs in this sector.
Medical Technology Defined
The EU Medical Devices Directive states that a medical device is: "Any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, including the software intended by its manufacturer to be used specifically for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes and necessary for its proper application, intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings” To provide a perspective on how wide a range medical technology encompasses, there are more than 500,000 technologies, in 20,000 generic groups.
The NHS and MedTech development
The plenary session of MedTech Momentum was opened by Sue Dunkerton, a director at The Knowledge Transfer Network. She stressed that the model for developing medical devices must be focused on patient outcomes. SMEs should be working with the NHS to develop medical devices to meet unmet clinical needs. Sue also gave some interesting statistics; in particular that MedTech is overtaking pharma as an employer in the UK.
Diana Morgan of Health Sciences Scotland, a partnership of medical universities and their associated NHS Health Boards in Scotland supported by Scottish Enterprise, told us more about what HSS can offer to MedTech companies. HSS can provide a scientific and clinical advisory service, and in some cases financial support for clinical trials. HSS aims to bridge the gaps in translation from early discovery and innovation through to advanced clinical trials. Diana also highlighted the “Health Innovation Partnership” and that through this initiative the NHS has shown it is willing to work with SMEs to develop new medical devices.
Brendan Faulds of the Digital Health Institute described how Scotland is the perfect test bed for new medical devices because of the demographic spread in health. DHI was founded by NHS24, the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow School of Art. Digital health involves the use of information and communication technologies to address health problems, aided in particular by the availability of “big data” with respect to patient information. For SMEs interested in digital health, DHI can offer access to expertise and test environments, business mentoring support and facilitation to source funding.
Alec McLean of Lamellar Biomedical highlighted the advantages of working with the NHS, namely that they can act as a co-sponsor to any study, and provide essential protocol and clinical input for a trial. Lamellar had the opportunity to run a trial at the Beatson Institute on 30 patients, which provided essential information regarding dose response and so improved the trial protocol.
The afternoon sessions were all about success stories in MedTech innovation, including “MediCity”, a collaboration between Alliance Boots and BioCity designed to support business development for innovators in consumer healthcare, medical technology and diagnostics. Eddie Abrams of Vision 360 told us how BioCity can help SMEs through introduction to the MedTech space, provide new opportunities such as collaboration with alliance Boots, and financing.
The day closed with excellent talks from Adam Christie of Calcivis and Peter Estibeiro of i2eye Diagnostics, both companies are success stories in the field of MedTech. Adam again highlighted that genuine innovation in the field had to be focused on an unmet need for MedTech companies to obtain financing. Both Peter and Adam stressed the importance of building successful relationships with their investors, and being completely transparent with respect to making company decisions.
Many thanks to Jane Kennedy and Fraser Black for putting on such a great event for the MedTech companies in attendance. Many people I spoke to after the event cited the day as providing new information as to where to find support and funding. Speaking of “unmet need” there is clearly a demand for similar informative events, especially in respect of which organisations can provide funding and how they interact with other connected organisations. Well done BioCity for addressing this! Looking forward already to the second “Funding Fundamentals for Life Science Entrepreneurs” on the 2nd October.