The Science Park Showcase at our MedTech Innovation Assembly 2023 (MIA’23) played host to some incredible spokespeople from science parks across the country. Our aim was to showcase the current innovators at the fore of UK MedTech and draw on their insight to encourage knowledge sharing between regions.
So, what pearls of wisdom did they have to share about creating an environment that’s conducive to innovation and growth? Read on to find out!
Chairing our Science Park Showcase was Paula Rogers-Brown, Business Community Manager at Connect: HealthTech. Making up the panel was:
- Jane Kennedy – Discovery Park, Kent
- Gareth Scargill – Nexus, Leeds
- Professor Vikki Rand – Teeside University, Teeside
- Sue Cooke – 3M Buckly Innovation Centre, Huddersfield
- Rebecca Crow – Helix, Newcastle
- Andy Roberts – Bruntwood SciTech
How can we connect the UK’s Science Parks?
The first questions put to our panel were focussed on connectivity, and the idea of pan-regional collaborations. They included:
- How can science parks and accelerators work together to create a more connected and collaborative MedTech ecosystem across the UK?
- What types of physical spaces are needed to support the growth of the UK MedTech sector?
- How can we make it easier for the NHS to work with spinouts and science parks to bring new MedTech products and services to patients?
‘Discovery Park’s Jane Kennedy spoke about how science parks needed to create a sense of ‘serendipity’, supported by Helix’s Rebecca Crow. She reminded the audience that parks have ‘strength together’, particularly the importance of ‘showcasing what we do’ and ‘having a unified message’.
Adding to this point around the significance of ‘true’ collaboration was Bruntwood SciTech’s Andy Roberts. He reinforced that MedTechs need to remember they are:
‘On a global stage – we need to work collaboratively with other science parks and not see them as competition.’
On a similar vein, Professor Vikki Rand of Teeside University brought up how UK MedTechs aren’t currently ‘reinventing the wheel’. Nor are they ‘discussing lessons learnt’. Is that a lesson in itself?
Perhaps! And one of the lessons that seemed to be a shared opinion of our panellists was to get more science park success stories out there. They all expressed keenness for parks (pharma sites especially) to rebuild positive reputations to drive growth. Jane added that we need to ‘showcase that science is for everyone’ and ‘the different access points available’.
Investment in UK MedTech Science Parks
Next up was the topic of investment. From the sector’s key investment opportunities in the coming years to the benefits of co-locating and twinning science parks across regions, discussion on what needs to be done to attract investment into the UK MedTech market was in full flow!
Following a comment about remembering there is ‘life’ outside the UK’s golden triangle of MedTech, Jane argued that ‘there is not a lack of lab space’. So, what is there a lack of when it comes to investment?
Well, Andy shared his belief that the ‘attitude from parliament needs to change’. He told us that at an event:
‘They [parliament] said ‘we will use Cambridge talent for Manchester, and I asked “why?”.’
Why indeed, when our MedTech Innovation Assembly brought together medical technology experts from the north, south, and everywhere in between? It was positive – and rather significant – that any idea that MedTech talent and/or innovation is concentrated to a particular region in the UK was quickly quashed!
Preparations: From start-ups to young people
The third and final talking point put to the panel was on the topic of raising aspirations. We opened with questions about how science parks and accelerators can help raise aspirations for young people to pursue careers in MedTech? This discussion had a particular focus on young people from underrepresented groups. The panel debated the best ways to shape career mindsets for the future.
Such a topic led nicely onto how we can best prepare UK MedTech start-ups for the ‘real’ world. Vicki put forward the suggestion of ‘setting up an MD group’ where start-ups can ‘network and access peer-to-peer support to help them get ready for the outside’. Gareth then highlighted the importance of language when it comes to finding solutions in terms of pushing the science park agenda. He believes that ‘not using phrasing around incubators but more going towards accelerators’ could be a core change that could positively impact the reputation of the nation’s science parks.
MedTech Innovation Assembly 2024
It seemed apt to end such a thought-provoking discussion on such a simple yet poignant thought. We’re sure it wasn’t the only thought they walked away from our MedTech Innovation Assembly with!
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