On 28 November, Life Sciences Hub Wales held the first ever Wales Cancer Innovation Challenge Wales.

This two-day event, which was attended by over 100 delegates, including representatives from the life sciences industry from across the UK and clinicians from across NHS Wales.

Image of a pitch to the Dragons Den

The purpose of the event was to enable NHS cancer professionals to identify key challenges in delivering care and work with industry professionals to come up with solutions that could be scaled and adopted across Wales.

How the challenge works

Following our national call out, we received 32 challenges which were submitted to an expert panel. These challenges were shortlisted, and eleven submissions were invited to present at the event.

The Cancer Innovation Challenge event was perfectly summed up by Charlotte Bloodworth from Cardiff and Vale Health Board, who said:

“We know what we want, but we need your help to do it.”

Once all the challenges had been presented, the teams were formed. Each team was a self-selecting mixture of representatives from the NHS, life sciences industry and academia.

24 hours later we reconvened, the new projects and solutions were delivered at ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch.

Successful projects awarded part of £50,000 investment

Funding allocation was divided between five worthy winners. Projects were asked to demonstrate an effective solution to an unmet clinical need and clearly outline how their idea would improve cancer patients’ outcomes in Wales.

The five successful projects were:

  • Next Generation training for healthcare professionals in dealing with sepsis – Velindre NHS trust and Cardiff University
  • Point, Click, Diagnose Dermatology - Velindre NHS Trust and ARCH
  • Improving the outcomes and experience of patients undergoing Bone Marrow Transplant -  Cardiff & Vale University Health Board
  • Enhancing patient pathway efficiency through Digital Pathology - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
  • Increasing clinical trial recruitment - Swansea Bay University Health Board

Here’s what some of our attendees had to say about the day:

"Representing Olympus Medical at the Life Sciences Hub Wales - Cancer Innovation Challenge was a fantastic experience. To see the passion when both the NHS and Industry get together to tackle one of our biggest diseases was truly inspiring. We at Olympus pride ourselves in supporting better delivery of cancer across Wales. This was a great opportunity to better understand where the pain points are and exactly how we can help. I can't wait for the next event!" - Graham Popham, Head of Market Access at Olympus Medical.

It was very encouraging to be involved in an event where we were working collaboratively with a broader audience – developing new ways of working in line with the service needs” – Huw Shurmer, Strategic Relationship Manager, Medical Systems, FUJIFILM UK Limited.

A big thank you to the Wales Cancer Network and Welsh Government for the funding to support these projects on the next steps to improve patient outcomes in Wales.

Coming soon; the North Wales Welsh Health Hack – save the dates in your diary and get involved.