Being 'sent to Coventry' is not ordinarily something one wants to hear, but at the end of April for the last few years I have made my pilgrimage to the Ricoh Arena to the excellent (and free) Med-Tech Innovation Expo, hosted by Med-Tech Communications and Medilink UK. I look back at the two day event that closed on 26 April and summarise my views based on two of the sessions which particularly resonated with me.
The Med-Tech Innovation Expo, as the quote from its website suggests below, is crammed full of medical device related companies displaying, selling and generally educating (dare I even say entertaining) peers, funders, sector specialists, commentators alike. From polymer distributors, 3D printers, laser engineers, dosage administrators and packaging companies, the event provides an opportunity to explore the full spectrum of the med-tech community.
Another benefit of the event is the blend of SMEs vs blue chip companies. I was pleased to see Steris AST (a global sterilisation specialist and whom we were involved with on their US$1.9 billion acquisition of Synergy) in attendance again and alongside the likes of Hitex, a supplier of chip embedded tools based on the Warwick University Science Park.
Finally, the expo also transcends, perhaps more so this year than any other, industry and academia. Universities from Leicester, Keele and Warwick were all in strong attendance as were a number of their 'science-park' hubs and incubators up and down the country.
As for the mood of the event, everyone seemed to be incredibly positive, despite the Brexit clouds forming in the distance. This was best demonstrated, in my mind, by sessions given by the excellent Karen Taylor (at Deloitte's Centre for Health Solutions) and Paul Hammer (manager of the medtech incubator in Manchester).
Karen spent half-an-hour summarising Deloitte's informative 'future awakens' paper offering 6 key predictions to the global life science sector by 2022. This included, at number 5, the future of medicine being 'here and now', such that by 2022 medicine will be predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory (4xPs). A common theme throughout was AI and the presence of non-traditional healthcare players disrupting the landscape. In all, a rose-tinted nod to what should be an exciting and enjoyable road ahead (whether in the US, Europe or China).
Paul had a little less time on stage, nevertheless, his message was no less powerful 'how do med-tech innovators get the NHS' attention'. In short, Paul referenced four key questions innovators must ask themselves: (i) what is the problem / need, (ii) how has this been validated, (iii) what are the potential benefits of your solution; and (iv) what evidence do you have. If you are unwavering in answering each of these topics, then, in his view, now is as good a time as any to gain traction and support.
Driving away from Coventry I felt a sense of re-invigoration towards the future of the med-tech industry in the UK and the life science sector more widely. I even managed a wry smile to myself when I heard next year's expo will be at the NEC in Birmingham and so I won't even have to be sent to Coventry!