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All things Pharma

Medilink East Midlands Innovation Day 2011

East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, 11 May 2011


This event had the theme ‘Fit for the future’. In a time of economic crisis, with the health system in turmoil, having valuable scientific insights is not enough to ensure the success of life science companies. Now more than ever, innovation means finding better ways to deliver value to a changing customer base.

Over 300 representatives of the East Midlands’ medtech, biotech and pharma sectors gathered for a day of presentations and discussions, culminating in the presentation of the Medilink East Midlands Business Awards 2011.

The day’s events were presented by science broadcaster Vivienne Parry OBE – who told the delegates that her experiences of live broadcasting had taught her both the value of taking risks and the need to be well prepared.

Throughout the day, an exhibition by service providers to the life science sector – from innovation specialist Healthcare and Bioscience iNet to legal and regulatory affairs consultancies, academic and industry partners and life science incubators.

Vivienne Parry moderating a panel discussion

Spin cycle

Vivienne Parry’s opening talk described the profound changes taking place in healthcare: demographic and economic pressures are driving a shift to home-based care and preventative treatment, while technological changes are making possible the development of miniaturised ‘smart’ devices and diagnostics. The NHS, she said, is on a “spin cycle” of change to deliver reduced costs and higher quality of care. She drew out two underlying messages: the growing value of co-production (for example, of drugs and drug delivery devices) and the need for the industry to engage with a wider range of stakeholders.

Jeremy Russell, Director of Praestantia Medical Ltd, addressed the question: “Is the medtech industry fit for the future?” In a provocative SWOT analysis of the UK medtech sector, he identified its key weaknesses as a focus on products rather than solutions; a failure to plan in sufficient depth, leaving key aspects such as reimbursement and regulation to be ‘retrofitted’); and a ‘Some day my prince will come’ approach to customer targeting. The way forward, he argued, lies in better management of the innovation process: the benefits of a technology must be demonstrable, and the planning must be thorough, rigorous and broad.

A number of service providers to industry gave 5-minute ‘soapbox presentations’ (with an ending time enforced by a gong), including:

• Nick Merryfield of NHIS (National Health Information Service) on the value to suppliers of NHS data focused on providing customer insights.

• Chris Penfold of Design Cognition on new technologies that enable the design of more customer-focused, interactive packaging for drugs and devices.

• Joachim Grevel of BAST on the value to manufacturers of computer modelling to generate optimal trial designs and support investment decisions.

• Heike Passauer from development agency Baden-Württemburg International on it can help UK life science companies build their presence in Germany.

In the afternoon, a panel of health reform specialists discussed the question “Is the NHS fit for business?” They outlined the potential benefits to suppliers of an NHS focused on outcomes and ‘value for money’. On the question of how to get innovations into the NHS, their suggestions included: focusing on the cost-benefit equation; building alliances with patient groups; identifying a ‘human story’ to back up a product; lobbying NICE; and as a last resort, undercutting your competitors on price.

Best and brightest

In the evening, a gala dinner accompanied the presentation of the East Midlands Business Awards 2011. The choice of theme music (New Order’s ‘Regret’) underlined the difficulty of selecting winners from a dynamic regional sector. The winners will be entered for the Medilink UK national awards.

The Start-up Award was won by Platelet Solutions, a supplier of user-friendly blood tests for platelet function based on a new technology.

Morningside Pharmaceuticals collected the Export award in recognition of its success in selling drugs and devices to private, public and aid sector customers in over 80 countries.

The Partnership with the NHS Award went to Optima-Life for its partnership with Glenfield Hospital Leicester in developing a system to evaluate the exercise capacity of chronic heart failure patients.

Scientific camera manufacturer XCAM won the Innovation Award for its development of a CCD camera used to photograph viruses.

Finally, and to strong applause, Monica Healthcare won the Outstanding Achievement Award for its home-based foetal monitor, which has gained FDA approval. CEO Carl Barratt said: “This award is well-deserved regional and national recognition and great technical and market validation of our product, of which we are all very proud.”


Winners of the Medilink East Midlands Business Awards 2011

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