How will healthcare advance in the future?
Last week I attended the New Scientist Live event in London, Innovate UK’s first large-scale involvement at a public engagement event.
I was delighted to be invited to speak on the topic of healthcare of the future.
After 25 years working in the pharmaceutical industry I remain committed to innovations that give patients the very best therapies. With a growing and ageing population globally, the challenge of providing effective and affordable healthcare is ever present and new technologies must be implemented to improve productivity and efficiency.
As CEO, one of the highlights is hearing about the success of companies we have supported, better still sharing a stage with them.
Healthcare poses many innovation challenges for businesses
- Mental health
Estimates say that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. Mental health is the largest cost to the NHS in England.
Amy Bilderbeck described P1vital Products’ PReDicT test for depression which monitors patients’ responses to antidepressants.
Amy said 1 in 2 patients fail to get better with the first antidepressant they are prescribed, and it can take 4-6 weeks to detect this non-response.
Identifying earlier whether a patient is given the right medication for depression is very important for helping patients to feel better quicker.
- Lung cancer
1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime.
Lung cancer has particularly poor survival rates because it is often diagnosed later than other cancers. Earlier detection gives patients the best chance of survival.
Billy Boyle demonstrated Owlstone Medical’s breathalyser technology, which improves the measurement of metabolites in our breath. Cancer creates a unique pattern of breath metabolites, which could be used as an early diagnostic.
Billy said that:
increasing detection rates of lung cancer at stage I to 25% could save over 9,500 lives over a 3-year period.
P1vital Products and Owlstone Medical have some similarities.
Firstly, both use machine learning to support clinical decision-making. Future approaches to diagnosis and treatment selection will need cross-disciplinary investment.
Secondly, the scientific origins of both companies came from British Universities and thirdly, both are now conducting large scale clinical trials to demonstrate improved outcomes over conventional pathways.
The creation of UK Research and Innovation should make it easier for new companies to translate quality research into revenue.
Analysis by the BioIndustry Association has shown that The Biomedical Catalyst, a partnership between Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council, that invested over £200 million in growing biomedical companies, has so far generated over £1 billion in follow-on private sector investment.
These are exciting times in healthcare.
Showcasing innovative UK companies
Walking round the New Scientist Live event, I was struck by how many of the companies exhibiting had won Innovate UK grant funding, beyond those in our showcase area.
A big thank you to all the following organisations for taking part with us:
- Arcola Hydrogen Challenge
- GrowUp Urban Farms
- Owlstone Medical
- P1vital Products
- Satellite Applications Catapult
- Transport Systems Catapult
- WITT Energy Harvester
Thousands of people attended the hands-on event, enjoying activities from building cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells to flint-knapping.
Among the visitors to our area was Astronaut Tim Peake who tried out the virtual reality experience in the Transport Systems Catapult’s autonomous Lutz pod.
We are now preparing for our own annual event– Innovate 2016 in Manchester.
We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with New Scientist who will be our media partner.
The UK is a leader in innovation and new technology, promising benefits for our future society and for economic growth. Improving communication can only help us deliver on those promises.
Follow me on Twitter: @RuthMcKernan
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