University of Warwick: £100,000 funding to launch Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network to cultivate the next healthcare innovators

Businesses aiming to move into or grow within the healthcare, technology and wellbeing sectors can harness university and hospital expertise and resources, as well as specialist work space and business support, through a new network launched by the University of Warwick in partnership with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust and Bruntwood SciTech.

They have established the new West Midlands Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network, aiming to find and cultivate the next big innovations in healthcare transformation.

The Network has received £100,000 funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Innovation Programme to create and develop innovative commercial responses to real-world health challenges grounded in regional impact. The next phase will be to expand across the West Midlands, bringing in the universities and NHS Trusts in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

The Network will set a successive number of challenges and each time call for interested businesses, who have a desire for growth in the healthcare, wellbeing and technology sectors to step forward for support. Businesses will not need to be based in the West Midlands in order to pitch their idea but in addressing the challenges their impact should be felt in the region. The first of these challenges will be launched in August 2021.

Successful pitches will receive a package of acceleration support to deliver their solution including:

Coaching and mentoring
Pitching opportunities
Funding information
Investment readiness development
Expert / technical advice
Desk space
Business development
Testbeds
Networking and introductions to influential and knowledgeable networks in the region
Initially, space will be made available in Birmingham (Bruntwood Sci Tech) and Coventry (UHCW) and at the University of Warwick. The programme will also leverage resources of existing incubators, accelerators and centres in the region.

Wendy Coy, Director of Operations at Warwick Innovation Group at the University of Warwick, said: “As our experience over the last 18 months has shown the power of innovation to tackle a public health challenge, now we want to turn that to existing and future challenges in health and wellbeing. In establishing the West Midlands Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network, we will be putting those challenges directly to existing and aspiring innovators in the field, with the impact to be felt within the West Midlands and beyond. It’s an exciting opportunity to engage with our academics, students and alumni, Warwick Medical School and University of Warwick Science Park, as well as the local, regional and national health community.”

Jamie Elliott, Innovation Lead at the West Midlands Combined Authority said: “This is an excellent example of how the West Midlands Innovation Programme has identified an gap within the region’s innovation ecosystem and supported a pilot that fills the gap through a new collaborative approach. This pilot brings together an eclectic mix of hospitals, universities and business to demonstrate a new way of working in this sector.”

Professor Lawrence Young, of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value and importance of engagement across different sectors of healthcare. Innovation comes from creating the right environment to bring these different perspectives, experiences and expertise together and that’s what this new Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network is all about. It builds on the interdisciplinary expertise in health at the University of Warwick and the real-world experience of the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust to create a unique environment working with local businesses to effect transformative innovation in healthcare.”

Professor Joe Hardwicke of UHCW NHS Trust said: “The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network is a great opportunity to link innovators with the challenges that we encounter everyday within the wider healthcare ecosystem. The connection that we have established between UHCW Innovation and the University of Warwick Innovation Group will allow us to devise and test state of the art healthcare solutions for our local patients and beyond in the coming year.”

David Hardman, Managing Director for Bruntwood Sci Tech in Birmingham said: “Through this partnership we are extending our Serendip® Access to Innovation model which has successfully identified and supported the development of challenge solutions across a range of sectors. As the West Midlands looks to grow its healthcare economy this network will identify real needs in the health and wellbeing sectors providing new market opportunities to promote the establishment and growth of businesses through demand-led innovation.”

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