TRUSTECH’s Technology Director talk at Manchester Town Hall

Dr Richard Deed, TRUSTECH’s Technology Director has extensive experience of identifying, evaluating and commercialising healthcare innovations and is responsible for delivering a number of high profile initiatives across the NHS in the North West region and further afield.

Back in December, Richard was invited to deliver a keynote at the Westminster Higher Education Forum held at Manchester Town Hall.  The event, intended to support the development of entrepreneurship through universities, local economies and devolution, brought together a host of presenters and delegate in a creative shared learning environment.

Below is the full transcript of Richard’s talk:

“Good morning everybody.

“I’m going to take a slightly different angle compared to what I’ve heard before me today because I’m not actually directly employed in academia; I work in the NHS. But we do have very strong links with academia and the local industry, so I’m here to present to you some of the things we’re working on collaboratively here in Greater Manchester, focusing on healthcare across the region and how it fits into Devolution.

“I’m the technology director of an organisation called TRUSTECH. There’s probably many similar organisations in various cities around the country and I think we’re doing some things here in Manchester that others are doing elsewhere, but I also think that we’re doing some other things very differently. Our principal driver is to identify good ideas and innovations and make them happen; whether that’s coming from within the NHS or outside of the NHS, our intention is to bring them into practice.

“We started about 15 years ago when we had some very good support from BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) as it was then, but for the last six years we’ve been self-sustaining. We actually generate enough income from our activities to employ a small team of around 25 people.

“We’re based in a state-of-the-art building called Citylabs on the large Central Manchester University Hospital site, which is situated on the Corridor out from the city centre towards the airport. We have some very key partners that we work with locally in Greater Manchester. You will all have Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) in your region and we work very closely with Greater Manchester’s. We also work with the Manchester Growth Company; Business Growth Hub‘s Rick Watson is here as evidence of that. And we also have strong ties with the universities of Manchester; not just the University of Manchester, but also Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Salford and the University of Bolton.

“Manchester is developing a real health technology cluster based along the Corridor, which is made up of a number of components, academic centres, universities and hospitals, which you can see on the cluster map.

“There’s also a number of other key facilities and organisations. We have NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, a key organisation for implementing change in the NHS. We have Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), who run the science park as well as Citylabs and the BioHub at Alderley Park, providing world-class laboratory and office accommodation for SMEs and multinationals. And another of the big things we have is a very good airport, which means we can accommodate a lot of international as well as national and local activity and I can give you some examples of where that is actually bringing in innovation.

“About six years ago we started The MedTECH Centre, a small start-up incubator on the science park in Manchester to address medical devices and medical technologies. There was already a massive incubator within the university aimed at biotech and pharma, but there was a clear gap in the market for providing incubation space for medtech. We started with just two companies and over the last five or six years, with some local funding and infrastructure support, we’ve grown to house over 30 companies. Our first resident, Phagenesis, was sold to Nestle Health Science this year in a phased buyout. Another of our residents, Zilico, relocated to Manchester from across the Pennines in Sheffield, which demonstrates the value of the offer. 

“So what we do in The MedTECH Centre is help companies engage with the NHS, link into the universities as well as people like the Business Growth Hub, who help find appropriate staff and graduates. So if you have the right support around you can see things really, really grow.

“The second activity I wanted to talk about is our work with the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network (GM AHSN). From the infographic you’ll see what they have set out to achieve: a billion pounds worth of investment; generate 1000 jobs; and support 500 SMEs over the course of their life.

“What TRUSTECH has done for the GM AHSN is to create an engagement process for companies, particularly SMEs, called the Innovation Nexus. The companies that come through the Nexus can get advice and access to funding to help them move their products and services along the innovation cycle. It is something that is unique to Greater Manchester, and it is working very effectively.

“There’s a small amount of funding available through the Innovation Nexus to kick start early stage developments or to finish off evaluations of products and services. The Innovation Nexus has been running for just over two years, but earlier this year [2016] we worked with the Business Growth Hub to expand the offering. Because of EU funding we now have a bigger team and are looking to offer assistance across other sectors. Instead of just offering services to medtech companies, we can now support digital creative, manufacturing and low carbon and we’re seeing great opportunities for synergy with healthcare.

“Since 2014, 274 companies from around the world, many of them in the North of England, have registered their details, interests and requirements. We’ve found that around 55% are Greater Manchester based, which is great because one of GM AHSN’s objectives is to help the local economy. The rest of the companies that have approached us come from as far away as Australia and Los Angeles and we’ve seen some interesting, innovative products and services.

“We’ve supported around 90% of them up to now; some of them we just can’t help because the product or service is not innovative or it’s not actually within our remit.

“At any one time we’re working with around 60 of those companies and that means we’ll develop their products, source resource or bring in skills from the universities such as 3D printing.

“The real output from the Innovation Nexus is that many of these companies have actually gone all the way through the process to actually have a product or service that is now being purchased by the NHS. The Innovation Nexus service was recognised in the 2016 Bionow Awards with the Business Service Award; so it’s good to get the recognition for developing and delivering something that is needed by companies.

“We’re expanding the Innovation Nexus in 2017 with something called STEP INto Health, which is a Structured Training and Education Programme that picks up entrepreneurial individuals or companies and develops their skills to help them to take their product to the NHS.

“To finish, I’d just like to give you an example of a company that was born in Sheffield and migrated to Manchester with their hand-held device to diagnose cervical cancer. When they arrived in Manchester they had a lot of clinical academic evidence, but didn’t really understand the complexities of selling to the NHS. Within the first year, we helped them to sell their product into two NHS Trusts and get onto what’s called the NHS Supply Chain, which is a preferred supplier list for NHS hospitals across the country. This company is going from strength to strength and they have started to look at other healthcare indications which could use their detection technology.

“Many of the products we see have a broad application and are being considered for widescale adoption across Greater Manchester through devolution.”

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