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14 December 2022

The Leeds MedTech Showcase: a hub of innovation in the north


After a slight delay from our original date of the 19th of September, our MedTech Showcase finally went off with a bang on the 28th of November! From in-depth panel discussions to educational workshops across the day, we could not be more delighted with how much insight was shared. Our event, run in collaboration with NexusUniversity of Leeds, and Leeds Digital Festival, showcased and celebrated those innovating within the MedTech sector.

Setting the Scene

The day kicked off with a keynote speech from Dame Linda Pollard, Chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Linda gave us some fantastic insight into MedTech developments and how Leeds is leading the way in the market, even on the global stage. She explained how MedTech could have an astounding impact on healthcare, from sustainability to lifting the pressures on the NHS.

 “Did you know that Leeds is home to one of the biggest and best MedTech growth opportunities in the UK, probably in Europe? Did you know that the sector in Leeds has the potential to create thousands of jobs and create billions in revenue?

It has been 160 years since the start of the iconic LGI’s construction next year. The original hospital in 1869 was designed on the advice of Florence Nightingale and completed by architect George Gilbert Scott. So, we’ve got quite a history to build on. We were pioneers back then and we will be again with our plans to build two new start-of-the-art hospitals

We need to make sure we are at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and more specifically developing homegrown HealthTech.”

Dame Linda Pollard

Linda was followed by David Brettle, Chief Science Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust who gave an engaging half-hour talk on the problems that MedTech helps to solve. He touched on elements of what MedTech needs to overcome to become the norm, the barriers and challenges faced within the industry, and why people are struggling to get involved.

“It’s all about breaking that transactional process and working out that data flow around patients. And part of that flow is smart devices. Everyone has a smartphone, but we don’t use resources like this to their full potential. We could use that resource for things like navigation in the hospital, for consultations, for receiving results and for symptom tracking.”

David Brettle

Splitting the room

Our attendees were then invited to explore the event and all it had to offer, in one area we had a range of workshops exploring the themes of Adoption, Ideation, and Inclusion. Another room had expert panellists of founders, industry experts and clinicians discussing everything from how aspiring MedTech start-ups can get going to what technology has revolutionised the industry. Alongside this bustle of activity, we also had a large space set up for exhibitors who came along to showcase their incredible innovations.

A workshops walkthrough

Our workshops worked as a designated space for our attendees to gain deep insight into subject-specific areas in our breakout rooms. Our workshops throughout the day were run by Q5University of Leeds, and Hippo.

Proceeding to panels

Our three-panel discussions ran in tandem with the workshops, providing exclusive insight from some of the industry’s best and brightest. The panel discussions looked to combat some of the most pressing issues circulating within the MedTech sector. Our panels across the day were:

  • The Founders Perspective: Panel of MedTech Founders
  •  The Industry Experts
  • The Solution So Far: Panel of Surgeons, Doctors, and Clinicians

MedTech & Data: Ed Thewlis Director of Hippo takes to the stage

As part of the event, we were joined by none other than our own Director, Ed who delved into the importance of MedTech’s implementing data analytics and avoiding a ‘data explosion’.

“There’s a lot of really exciting opportunities in this space right now, and I think the challenge we’ve got is that there is quite a narrow focus on making things work right now rather than what can be realised in the future.”

Ed Thewlis

In his talk, he brought to the foreground 3 core problems that exist in the healthcare system right now:

  1. Virtual Wards -We are looking to create virtual wards, but the healthcare system is not yet built this way.
  2. Cognitive Overload – With the emergence of new tech, a lot of data is being thrown at people but it’s not always in usable formats or could require analytical capabilities.
  3. Fragmentation & Limited Integration – MedTech’s are often hosted on different platforms outside of the NHS and won’t truly fully support the likes of FHIR.

But what is the solution?

“We need to find a way of having a consolidated approach to managing data and one that is collaborative. And now we are not building a dataset to evidence that virtual wards are improving patient outcomes, yes it can relieve bed capacity but not necessarily the outcome of patients.  The current data is biased and is only derived from people who feel unwell or those with health conditions, but data collection through MedTech’s can help to build a collective overview of the population.”

Ed Thewlis

Big thoughts from Brandon Medical

We spoke to representatives from Brandon Medical, who gave us an initial overview of what their product entails:

“What we have is called a theatre control panel. So, it’s built into the wall of an operating theatre, and it gives the surgeon a complete overview of the status of the equipment. So, if there’s a problem with medical gas supply, or electricity an alarm will flash up. It can also be used to control equipment such as the operating theatre lights.”

Tom Partington

When asked how he was finding the event so far, they replied:

“It’s a big opportunity, and I don’t necessarily mean that in terms of sales. It’s an opportunity to meet and speak with others in the industry. We manufacture our product just down the road in Morely, so we’re fully Yorkshire- based and it’s great to see other companies who are based in the region.”

Tom Partington

“From our point of view, and we’ve only been here a few years, we’re absolutely blown away by the level of innovation in MedTech that seems to be growing in Leeds and the number of companies there are.”

Tina Davies

Chatting with Covvi

Next up we spoke with Covvi to find out how their day had been at the MedTech Showcase, their representatives, Simon Pollard, CEO, and John Wilkinson, Production Lead said:

“I guess our highlight would be finding out about everything that’s going on around Leeds. We’re based in Hunslet but we didn’t have any idea about a lot of the things going on in Leeds that we have seen and heard about today. Also learning about what we need to now do with our product to start getting it through the NHS so we can begin changing lives.”

We’re proud to be Yorkshire-men anyway but knowing that there are other companies in a similar situation to us and some being even younger than we are is good to know, we’re making a lot of contacts here. I think that having contacts within a local community that you can look to collaborate and share with is just great.”

John Wilkinson

 “I think it’s a good headspace for our guys to be in. They can get out of production where they’re generally cocooned away for most of the working week and come and do something totally fresh. We’re on a fairly aggressive growth path right now, and it’s good to know that Leeds is becoming an incubation area and that’s certainly something we can jump on the coattails of. There’s always quite a lot of red tape between taking a product from starting to where it needs to go but I certainly think I’ve got a few contacts here that will help us accelerate that.”

Simon Pollard

All the exhibitors who joined us for the day had one resounding thought and that was the appreciation for the community being built in Leeds and awe for the level of innovation being seen.

Final words

After a jam-packed day with more information shared than we could have possibly hoped for, we heard some final thoughts from Arunangsu Chatterjee, Dean of Digital Transformation and Professor of Digital Health & Education at the University of Leeds alongside Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer of Culture and Economy at Leeds City Council. Both titans in the Leeds ecosystem gave a round-up of the day and added their own thoughts on the future of the Leeds MedTech scene.

“It is so fundamentally important to reflect on the events that have happened here today. We have a significant challenge in the industry combining high demand and limited supply and innovation is the only way forward. One that collectively brings stakeholders together. The right incentive and environment can make this change happen. For a MedTech ecosystem, it is important that we work with researchers and that service users are at the centre of a solution, with patient centricity and scalability in mind. Leeds is the place to be for MedTech innovation and adoption, it has all ingredients and is not comparable to any other location.”

Arunangsu Chatterjee

“I am so passionate about what happens in Leeds and am lucky enough to be involved in the innovation vision in Leeds, and we have benchmarked ourselves globally. We are driving innovation that will lead to a greener, healthier and more inclusive world and senior stakeholders are really promoting this vision. Leeds has the perfect environment for innovation, we have a demographic in Leeds that is representative of the UK, but beyond this our economy is very much like the whole UK and is known as the city of 1,000 trades. That means businesses who choose to come here to test their ideas, and it succeeds then chances are it will succeed elsewhere. We want to create conditions to help people become entrepreneurs but for health specifically make an infrastructure that is easier to navigate whilst being supportive.”

Eve Roodhouse

This event was truly everything we had envisaged and more and that was down to the incredible entrepreneurs, experts, and guests that dedicated their time to the event. The MedTech Showcase amplified the message of what Leeds has to offer as an innovation hub for MedTech and the unique opportunities that are afforded to the community because of the collaboration and links between the key players in the MedTech sector in the city. We’ll be exploring these themes in more depth over the coming weeks – watch this space!

MedTech & Healthcare

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