Health Innovation Manchester and ABHI roundtable showcases opportunites for healthtech SMEs post-pandemic

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Health Innovation Manchester and the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) welcomed local SMEs within the health and care system to a roundtable event on Thursday 5th May, to discuss the recurrent and new challenges organisations are faced with following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the UK’s exit from the European Union. The event was led by Richard Philips, Director of Strategy at ABHI and Andrew Davidson, Consulting HealthTech SMEs and Director at MediWales.

Health Innovation Manchester and ABHI currently have a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to support the healthcare community and shape products and services that help people live healthier lives. The event on the 5th May was part of ABHI’s Health Technology and Regulation Programme, leading on from the recently closed £7m funding call from ABHI, CPI and Innovate UK to assit SMEs with navigating the regulatory process.

The roundtable events (with an accompanying survey) will feed into a larger exercise to compile a full challenge picture and endeavour to influence future policy and increase the pace of adoption and revenue generation. On the day, Greater Manchester companies listed a wide range of challenges including:

• Access to funding and long lead-in times to funding.
• A confused customer base in transition of care.
• Complex, demanding and constantly shifting regulatory landscape.
• The capacity of over-stretched clinicians to collaborate and support on innovation.
• Rising costs of overseas materials and long delivery times requiring large investment upfront, with many UK SMEs now looking towards progressing their research and product
development in Europe and the US.

Clinical and innovation support representatives from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and The University of Manchester were also in attendance to provide a balanced viewpoint and their own challenges with SMEs, most notably the need for clear and well-evidenced financial and patient use cases. Many of the companies present were part of Health Innovation Manchester support programmes, including the ERDF R&I Health Accelerator and the ERDF Cheshire and Warrington Heath Matters programme. These programmes are helping to address some of these key challenges by providing funding; facilitated introductions to relevant academics, clinicians and ethics, regulatory and value propositioning support, leading to genuine collaborations with NHS trusts and higher education institutes to generate the real world evidence that companies and clinicians need.

ABHI aim to take the feedback from the day, with other roundtables around the UK, to produce a key challenges document for SMEs, alongside a simple, practical guide to regulation and its entry points. Health Innovation Manchester and ABHI will also be planning further events for SME involvement in the future to keep this conversation going.

Andrew Davidson, Director at MediWales, said: “It was a vibrant and informative discussion with Health Innovation Manchester and the ABHI team and the Manchester HealthTech SME community. Highlighting the challenges and barriers to growth will lead to focussed support that delivers future opportunity”.

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