How clusters and collaboration in the UK are driving better patient outcomes globally.
The West Midlands Health Technologies Cluster opened for business in April 2021. The cluster organisation is a company limited by guarantee and not-for-profit. Its establishment was preceded by research, options appraisal and consultations with stakeholders.
Already, the cluster has made far more progress in our short life to date than its founders dared hope for.
The cluster’s small team has lobbied on behalf of the five Midlands companies of the PPE Collective, worked with the Department for International Trade on a new HPO (High Potential Opportunities) prospectus for the region’s health technologies sector (ready for release to the UK’s embassies around the world in October 2021) and led for the West Midlands in talks with the government’s Vaccine Task Force on potential investment in preparedness for future pandemics and other serious health risks.
With state-of-the-art clinical facilities, a diverse population and pioneering partnerships between academics, clinicians and businesses, the West Midlands has strength across the four Ds of health technologies:
DATA, DEVICES, DIAGNOSTICS & DIGITAL HEALTH
The cluster had its formal launch in September 2021, at a diagnostics conference Building a Sustainable UK Diagnostic Sector: Meeting the Challenge which the cluster jointly organised with University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire.
Financially, the cluster is in great shape and aims to return a surplus in its first year. The ethos of the cluster is to work collaboratively with other key health tech organisations in the region – early examples of this approach include a Memorandum of Understanding with Medilink Midlands and an agreement to cooperate with the new West Midlands SIP (Science and Industry Partnership).
The cluster is a strong and dynamic alliance of regional businesses. As well as businesses – micro, SME and large – producing health products and services, the cluster has great buy-in also from professional services, Universities and the NHS, as members, strategic partners and sponsors.
Looking to the future, the cluster will recruit more businesses as paying members by having a clear value proposition based on economic growth. According to the leading authority on clusters, Michael Porter, successful clusters are business-driven.
We want businesses to direct and drive our work at the cluster organisation. Businesses operating in clusters experience more resilient supply chains, easier access to the skills they need, and mutually beneficial communications.
The cluster’s mission is to promote the economic success of the West Midlands and to maximise good quality jobs in the health technologies sector. The aim is to be the authoritative voice of our health technologies businesses, present whenever and wherever the sector is being discussed, and a powerful advocate for all the region’s health technologies businesses.
The cluster supports its member businesses through advice, advocacy, events, meet the buyer and networking opportunities. It is by supporting individual companies to grow that the cluster will best contribute to growing the health technologies sector and growing the economy in the West Midlands. The cluster also works with other organisations in supporting new start-ups and inward investment.
The value added by the cluster – to the region’s health technologies sector and economy overall – will grow as the cluster develops its influence. An early example of this has been the pump-priming money the cluster has secured for small diagnostics companies in DIAGCOMM, a model that can be replicated in other parts of the sector.
Executive chair, David Kidney says the cluster has come of age very quickly:
“The West Midlands Health Technologies Cluster is already a strong and dynamic alliance of regional businesses. Their health technologies products and services cover medical devices, digital services, data systems – and diagnostics. We have been determined to work collaboratively with other organisations.
“We offer collaboration not competition with an eye always on the needs of our membership This has earned us a reputation as an effective team player, able to work strategically with others for the benefit of our region.”