London Tech Week took place between 10 – 14 June, with international experts, businesses and Government ministers attending the prestigious event. We will examine some of the main talking points on health and innovation to emerge from the conference.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak opened the conference by heralding the UK’s research and innovation credentials, while declaring that innovation was the route to greater prosperity in our country.
He also focused upon the current record of his Government, highlighting the creation of the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology as an example of how he was prioritising science and innovation.
Fresh from his visit to Washington, where he was keen to position the UK as a leading figure in AI going forward, he continued on the same theme at the conference. He outlined the transformative applications of AI across all areas of life, notably namechecking the use of AI in diagnostics to provide quicker diagnoses and more accurate test results.
Lord Markham, a Government health minister, gave a keynote address which was unsurprisingly more health focused than his Party leader.
In words which may cause relief among BIVDA members, Lord Markham recounted his experience leading a PCR-testing company and ensured that, given his prior experience, he will work to remove barriers and promote innovation at every turn.
He continued by detailing what the Government has achieved in delivering innovation and health tech:
- The Small Business Research Initiative Healthcare award programme supports innovators and entrepreneurs. As of 2022 to 2023, the programme has made cumulative investments of over £129 million and has funded a total of 324 projects.
- The Digital Health Partnership Award has funded 43 NHS projects identified as novel, with the potential to scale at pace. The technologies are focused on supporting people at home and over 140,000 patients have been supported in under 2 years.
- Innovate UK provides funding to UK-based businesses or research organisations to support and stimulate innovation in the UK economy, offering grants of between £25,000 and £10 million and innovation loans of between £100,000 and £1 million.
- The National Institute for Health and Care Research works with industry at all stages of the clinical development pipeline. Funding is available to support promising innovations to generate the evidence needed to get to market.
- £123 million to test and evaluate 86 AI technologies in areas such as urgent stroke care, home testing for disease and cancer screening. These technologies are being deployed and scaled across 99 hospitals, and 300 primary care networks in the UK.
- In future, pilot new, novel mental health technology that has potential to transform our model of care, enabling citizens to have access years earlier to the most promising technologies.
- NHS England are working collaboratively with NICE, MHRA and other partners to create a clear, efficient and user-centred pathway to scale digital health technologies in the NHS.
- Deployed audits providing critical information on the level of risk in relation to digital health technologies and clinical systems and gives a first national picture of what digital health technologies are deployed where across the NHS.
- The digital and technology procurement framework strategy recommendations make the procurement process easier for both buyers and vendors to navigate, removing duplication and reducing costs.
- The AI and Digital Regulations Service has been released this week, which brings together all guidance on regulations that apply to digital and AI in one place.
Across the week, many others spoke on the development of innovation and health tech in the NHS. This included, Michael White, a manager in HSBC’s health and innovation branch, who told the conference that he was very optimistic that major investment from companies into UK health tech was coming.
He declared that the UK is ripe for investment, owing to its world class universities and entrepreneurs; similar in many ways to the Unites States. All that was required to exploit this hotbed of potential and innovation was requisite funding.
Similarly, Sam Barrell, deputy chief executive at the Francis Crick Institute, told London Tech Week audience that while the UK’s health and research landscape can be difficult to navigate and regulatorily burdensome, it was very much worth the effort.
Gaining approval in the UK is seen as the gold standard internationally, which provides products with immense credibility. She also pointed out that there were many avenues of support to help foreign businesses understand the NHS, such as AHSNs, to better understand the market and improve their investment prospects.
Other health-orientated sessions hosted at the conference included ‘Fireside Chat: Implementing the Future, How Can Digital and Data Truly Revolutionise Healthcare?’ with Tim Ferris and ‘Unlocking digital health in underserved countries’.