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HealthTech and MedTech Challenges and Opportunities

MedTech and HealthTech are defined as

  • MedTech: Equipment, medical devices, machines, diagnostics, software and tools. Better treatments and improvements on things like laser surgery, managing patient health journeys etc.
  • HealthTech: Prevention, monitoring of wellbeing, mental health and telehealth. Which includes wearables, software applications, data, connectivity, AI and in practice management.

Strengths and Opportunities

The Global Health Technologies market that is set to grow at >7% to exceed £500bn by 2025, with the two major markets in US (43%) and EU (27%). MedTech across the (East and West) Midlands contributes an estimated £1.6bn annually to the region.

The ‘West Midlands Plan for Growth’ describes the opportunity to create additional growth in the region’s HealthTech cluster of £400m - £430m by 2030, meaning a further 5,300 to 5,900 jobs in this part of the life sciences (10,00 new jobs overall).

The West Midlands ‘Plan for Growth’, the ‘State of the Region 2020’ reports both produced by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy all recognise that the region has cluster strengths and global competitiveness in MedTech and HealthTech.

Below are some examples of West Midland’s attributes:

Research Assets

  • Birmingham Health Innovation Campus has been designated as one of six Life Size Opportunity Zones by BEIS/OLS.
  • Specialist diagnostics research, for example immunodiagnostics, cancer diagnostics, Alzheimer’s and the Rosalind Franklin Lab in Royal Leamington Spa.
  • The Precision Health Technologies Accelerator will be dedicated to the rapid development and translation of innovative therapies and technologies from concept to clinical evaluation.
  • The West Midlands leads the way in supporting translational medicine with accessible institutions such as the Institute for Translational Medicine accelerating the development of drugs and devices by providing a platform for interaction between scientists, clinicians and industry and bring in access to the right infrastructure such as informatics and biodata. Birmingham Health Partners provide an industry-facing team to facilitate access to collaborative research for industry.

Technology/Knowledge Transfer

  • Large scale local healthcare system – eight hospitals combine with over 35 regional centres of clinical research excellence to make the West Midlands a hotspot for healthcare innovation and expertise. The region has one of the world’s largest concentrations of clinical trial activity for both drugs and medical devices with one in five of all UK trials carried out in the region. It is home to the Birmingham Centre for Clinical Trials, the largest clinical trials base in Europe outside Oxford including Cancer Trials Unit and accelerated trials networks and access to large, integrated patient data sets for a diverse, stable population.
  • Accessible patient data. The ability to digitise and integrate clinical and genomic data, harnessed from a 5.5million population, creates a major opportunity to analyse and improve healthcare technologies for practitioners, institutions, and patients, quickly.
  • Birmingham Precision Medicine Centre brings together in one place all the clinical and academic expertise to support trial design, ‘omic’ analysis, and patient data analytics to accelerate the development of innovative diagnostics and targeted healthcare. Expertise in genetic testing and patient stratification has led to accelerated trials models in blood cancers and is being extended support development of advanced therapies in other rare diseases.
  • PathLAKE at Warwick University, a £15 million project to create a unique data resource of pathology images and techniques, and help develop AI technologies for cancer diagnosis and personalised treatment. The exemplary work at Coventry University on SARS-CoV-2, the immune response, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, cardioprotective strategies and drug safety.


  • Strong supply of talent – the sector employs over 17,000 people in the West Midlands creating a substantial knowledgeable talent pool. The number of people employed in the sector is expected to increase by 10,000 by 2030. 11,000 graduates in medical sciences each year, and a further 6,000 graduates in the engineering and computing fields from our world leading universities.
  • The work of the West Midlands Universities and the collaborations they have in the sector is a key asset and future opportunity for the region.

Supporting Infrastructure

  • Manufacturing skills base - Device manufacturing (for example, stoma care, procedure packs), is the latest highlight in a long history of manufacturing innovation that anchors the West Midlands economy. The home of the Industrial Revolution, the region has harnessed its world-class supply chains and expertise in AI, robotics, and sensor technology to design, build and commercialise medical devices.
  • Best connected region in the country for 5G which is being used to unlock better health techniques and products. The West Midlands is building on this advantage with the Smart City Region programme which includes improving digital health diagnostics and treatments.


  • The region is marketed internationally for investment and growth in Data-Driven Healthcare & Technologies through the DITs High Potential Opportunity programme.
  • Translational/ commercial strengths include one in five of all UK clinical trials carried out in the region; accessible patient data; expertise in genetic testing and patient stratification; specialist diagnostics.
  • The region has accessible patient data - The ability to digitise and integrate clinical and genomic data, harnessed from a 5.5million population, creates a significant opportunity to analyse and improve healthcare technologies for practitioners, institutions, and patients, quickly.

Proposed Intervention Areas

130 people attended the MedTech/HealthTech workshop held on 4th July 2022. Five common themes emerged from feedback from the participants on what they thought the Innovation Accelerator should do. Any EOI being submitted should address at least one of the following themes:

Theme 1: Shortening the length of time to market. There is an issue with the length of time and the complexity of getting products to market. This process needs to become quicker and slicker with pathways clearly mapped and support provided at each major stage.

Part A: Provide specialist guidance at each stage of the businesses journey. This guidance could be developed in the form of a wraparound service which would include the provision of (or broker in) specialist sector guidance along with more general business support. The range of support needed includes - but is not exhaustive:

1.1 Financial advice (VAT, procurement, group buying etc)
1.2 Commercialisation advice
1.3 Intellectual Property advice
1.4 Regulation Advice
1.5 General business management advice (HR, legal, templates)
1.6 Grants- low level grants to unblock barriers (for example a grant for a piece of specialist equipment, or to support the development of a prototype, or commission market research)
1.7 Manage an investment fund
1.8 Supply chain advice– accessing existing ones and finding and creating new ones
1.9 Access to markets – brokering relationships
1.10 Identifying and creating export opportunities
1.11 Risk and change management advice
1.12 Networking and partnership building - an example could be through the development of sandboxes or mentoring

Part B: Improve accessibility and cost associated with clinical trials. Accessing clinical trials is crucial for businesses yet it is often a lengthy, difficult and costly process. How can this be overcome?

Part C: Improving accessibility and cost associated with data. Accessing the right data sets is crucial for many businesses in the West Midlands to be able to test their product. Accessing data in a timely and affordable way is one way of speeding up the journey to market. How can datasets become more accessible/user friendly?

Part D: Create an investment fund. Having the right type of finance at the right time for businesses is crucial. A solution could be a co-investment fund to support businesses. A grant scheme to pivot into the sector. A consistent campaign to raise awareness of the opportunity to potential investors, businesses or government departments that might relocate. What can be done to improve the rate of investment? What could this investment vehicle be in the West Midlands to specifically support the MedTech and HealthTech sectors?

Theme 2: Create one or more centres of excellence in the West Midlands. Building on the assets/strengths identified and the feedback from the workshop that there is an opportunity to achieve long term economic advantage by having one or more centres of excellence in the region, this could be in Regulation, Diagnostics or by creating a Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy. What would such a centre of excellence provide and how would it operate and be of benefit to the region?

Theme 3: Provision of suitable space – incubator, start up, grow on, demonstrator space, area to sandbox ideas or create a testbed. These could also serve as locations for wraparound services, create a cluster and become centres for the cross fertilisation of ideas and areas to work with other sectors to explore areas of cross over. What could it look like? What would it include?

Theme 4: Capitalise on the West Midlands as a centre of illness prevention. There is a huge market opportunity in the prevention of illness, personally targeted and digitally enabled care that the West Midlands with its expertise in devices, diagnostics and data could become a world leader in. How can this opportunity best be capitalised on?

Theme 5: Better sharing of information between health providers and businesses/academia. There is a strong desire to better understand the demand and issues that providers are experiencing. There is a disconnect in communication, improving this could be of enormous benefit to all. What interventions are needed to make this work or how can this be improved?

View further information on the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator and the web form for expressions of interest.