So you have a potential new solution to a healthcare problem. What’s stopping you getting that to market quickly?

Visual description of the Accelerate process

Often it’s getting proof that your idea works and provides a valuable solution.  Then it’s getting initial adoption in the market place from which you can scale.  Many innovative business owners have a gut feel that their solution will help patients and improve efficiencies. Many can’t find a way to acquire or commit resources to proving the concept or developing a product. Help is at hand from Life Sciences Hub Wales. Businesses in Wales are finding a way to Accelerate

Get to market rapidly

Innovation is an entrepreneurial activity that helps businesses grow in established and new markets. In life sciences a key measure of successful innovation is the benefit it brings to patients as it hits the market. But, getting products and services to market is a complex and tricky journey. Commercial success has many barriers not least clinical, regulatory and financial.  Accelerate is a programme to help Welsh businesses breakdown some of these barriers, improving technology readiness levels and speeding up the process that gets new ideas to market.

”Innovation leads to ground-breaking developments from medical devices to new therapies and more efficient working practices. To transform ideas into practical solutions requires a host of expertise and resources that are not readily available to businesses. They may be too small to acquire them or have limited use to make a business case for a short term investment. Accelerate provides a business with confidence that their idea has legs and the access to expertise and state of the art equipment, they couldn’t afford normally, to develop it,” says Gwyn Tudor, Life Sciences Hub Wales Innovation and Adoption Director.

Accelerate is already working on 19 companies’ projects. A further 42 businesses’ projects are in the pipeline. “Businesses in Wales of any size are eligible to participate. To date there is a diversity of projects underway. Businesses can already be operating in the life sciences sector or be in a different sector bringing fresh ideas and approaches to health care. Examples of current Accelerate projects include: improving operating theatre design, to reduce environmental impact and running costs; a better cancer drug screening process and reducing waiting lists significantly for eye care using digital technology.” reveals Gwyn.

An easy programme to access

Accelerate provides a unique support service for businesses looking to innovate in the life sciences and healthcare sector. It’s easy to access. An initial call to Life Sciences Hub Wales will help to establish whether your idea has merit. The experts there have a detailed knowledge of the health service and social care system in Wales. They are able to assess your idea confidentially in the context of their understanding of the challenges being faced across this complex landscape.  They can discuss the support your business needs to get your idea from concept to market.

Businesses engage with Accelerate at a number of stages in their product, process or service development lifecycle. Some are at early scoping stages, others are looking for development support. Accelerate projects are collaborations between the Accelerate partners and businesses. The Accelerate programme is supported financially through Welsh Government, so a direct financial outlay from the business is not needed. Participating companies contribute staff time, in-house expertise and resource to the collaborative project. The collaborative project is a true partnership with all parties having ownership of it.  Innovation is an entrepreneurial activity that generates intellectual property (IP).  Accelerate understands the commercial imperative for businesses to protect IP. Before projects get underway, IP is addressed with participating companies.  Any background IP is not affected by the project. IP that might be generated during the collaborative project is discussed and ownership agreed. 

Harness Welsh university expertise and facilities

What are the resources available through Accelerate that are tempting businesses to participate? Accelerate provides a ready-made source of expertise by tapping into the research and development capabilities of three of Wales’ leading universities. Sophie Lacey, Accelerate Programme Project Manager, takes a look at their specialist capabilities.

Swansea University’s Medical School (SUMS) is home to the Health Technology Centre (HTC). “They provide innovation technologists and business focussed academics with a powerful combination of technical knowledge and business orientated culture. Through them we can devise development and testing programmes that can develop and demonstrate product effectiveness. The HTC team span a huge range of disciplines from cell biology to data analytics,” says Sophie.

HTC has supported businesses with no in-house capabilities to build prototypes. Several are now mass market products that scaled rapidly. Recently, they have been working on understanding the biochemistry of molecules leading to improved immunity against cancers. Other experts have been helping businesses to develop bespoke IT applications.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David is where the Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATIC) is based. ATIC has expertise in product design related specifically to assisted technologies.  “They have a range of advanced facilities that allow them to see how a potential product would be used practically and test this with a prototype. Their 3D data and motion capture capability can reveal how to refine an assistive technology product or provide valuable insight into its initial design. This can enhance a product’s effectiveness and the potential to be adopted rapidly by the health sector,” explains Sophie.

Cardiff University’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator (CIA), based at the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, provides businesses with valuable links to the healthcare ecosystem. It has a wealth of connections with doctors, hospitals, patients and clinical researchers. “They are well placed to help businesses assess new products and services through patient trials, pre-clinical and clinical trials. Their healthcare links also assist businesses to build collaborative teams that include academic expertise and healthcare professionals from optometrists to consultants.  They are working currently with businesses to support pioneering commercial research in drug development, production of biomarkers and other areas of precision medicine,” reveals Sophie.

It time for your business to Accelerate

We are encouraging more businesses to explore what Accelerate can do for them. "Accelerate aims to work with businesses with innovative ideas in health care that will contribute to the Welsh economy. You can be a company registered in Wales, have a base in Wales, work with a Welsh company or establish a company in Wales. We can work with any size of company looking to develop product for the healthcare sector. Accelerate can help to build a multidisciplinary team that adds to your current capabilities and see your businesses in Wales flourish,” explains Gwyn.

Accelerate is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government. It is helping position Wales as a centre of excellence for healthcare innovation and the place for businesses to be. Your project could be up and running between a month and three months depending on how complex it is and the number of partners involved.  If you have an innovative healthcare idea, want to bolster your development team and improve your chances of commercial success in this complex market place then come and talk to the Accelerate Team. They are keen to help your Welsh business thrive in the health technology market.

You can contact the Accelerate team at Life Sciences Hub Wales on 029 2046 7030 (rydym yn croesawu galwadau’n Gymraeg / we welcome calls in Welsh) or email to discuss your latest health care innovation.