The SIGHT team: (top row): Olga Llewellyn, Pam Jones, Alice Mortlock, Anoop Chauhan, Joe Shoebridge, Gordon Blunn, Louise Pulley, Danielle Dove, Sharon Court. (bottom row): David Lubega, Sarah Duckering, Mark Barber, and Phil Jewell.
Picture this – you’re an entrepreneur with an exciting, innovative tech product that is in its infancy and which you know could transform healthcare in the UK. Great, right?
Yes, but when you begin to look into the challenges and complexities of bringing a new tech product into the healthcare industry, the obstacles could begin to look almost insurmountable.
Do you give up? No, you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve come this far – giving up is not an option.
Wouldn’t it be great though if there was a service that could help you to navigate the particular challenges associated with the industry, overcome the bureaucracy and even give you some financial support too?
The recently launched SIGHT project (Supporting Innovation and Growth in Healthcare Technologies) is designed to do just that. Newly established and based at the Portsmouth Technopole, this University of Portsmouth initiative, funded by the European Research Development Fund, is set to fuel growth in the healthcare tech sector. The project covers the whole of England and is funded for three years with a total programme value of £1.7m.
Dr Phil Jewell the Business Development Programme Manager wants to spread the word about the project and engage with fledgeling companies in the medical technologies sector that need help in launching their innovative new products.
Professor Gordon Blunn, Director of Health and Wellbeing research theme, University of Portsmouth explains why it is such a great project to get involved with, “SIGHT is a win-win: SMEs will receive bespoke, agile support to increase their competitiveness, and access new markets and develop products. It will help them avoid the so-called ‘valley of death’ many companies face between innovation and getting a medical technology product to market. And as a result, patients and the public will benefit from faster access to new products and services that meet their healthcare needs.”
SIGHT, who are based at the Portsmouth Technopole, can support medical technologies businesses through:
- Providing SMEs with access to clinicians and patient groups
- Sector-specific support, information and guidance to enable growth in regional/national and international markets
- Quarterly business innovation engagement workshops
- Bespoke advice to help overcome regulatory barriers that currently limit opportunities to expand into new markets
- A financial grant scheme for SMEs to access additional support
Packed Programme of events for Healthcare Tech
The SIGHT project already has a packed programme of events aimed at helping those innovators in the healthcare tech sector. These range from seminars covering topics that range from guidance on clinical trials, CE marking and finance through to protection of intellectual property.
A Biometric Security Solution
The health tech initiatives that are benefitting from SIGHT’s assistance are as diverse as the sector itself and aren’t necessarily what you might imagine.
Take, for example, one innovative company that specialises in biometric security systems and that has been helped by the SIGHT project to bring their technology into the NHS, to safeguard access to pharmaceutical stores within hospitals.
Phil Jewell explains that the company was told, ‘Whilst the stores have always been securely locked, we wasted so much time finding the key for them.’
Phil adds, ‘Innovations such as biometric security systems could save so much time in just one hospital, so imagine how much time could be saved across the whole national health service.’
However, introducing a biometric security system into a hospital is no small task and SIGHT were able to help the company by making connections with those that have the necessary expertise in hospital settings, pressures, management and even policing. This meant that they were able to understand and address the practical issues of implementing their solution in a working hospital.
So why base SIGHT at the Portsmouth Technopole?
Professor Gordon Blunn, who heads the project for the University explains, ‘ The SIGHT (Supporting Innovation and Growth in Health Care Technologies) project is a University of Portsmouth initiative and so it makes sense to base it here in the City. The Technopole has some unique advantages for a project like this. The location at the gateway to the City helps, as does the fact that it is part of the Innovation Connect group of business centres in Portsmouth owned by the University of Portsmouth. In addition one of the partners on SIGHT is Portsmouth Hospital Trust and Technopole offers easy access to both the University and the Hospital whilst keeping it close to the University and its resources and placing it within a business community that has a strong profile of tech companies.’’
Dean Pascall, Technopole Manager for Oxford Innovation who manages the centre, said, ‘We were delighted to be joined by the SIGHT project. They’ve settled in quickly and are a great fit for us, given the support they offer to tech companies looking to develop products in the healthcare sector.’