Venturefest debates feed appetite for change
Better infrastructure, recruitment and business support are needed if life sciences companies in the Oxford AHSN region are to continue to grow and prosper. This was a common theme at different sessions at Venturefest Oxford
on 8 July.
The Oxford AHSN’s Director of Commercial Development Dr Nick Scott-Ram, pictured left, was a panel member in a discussion on life sciences innovation
. It was recognised that a strong life sciences cluster has grown in Oxfordshire – but a rethink is needed now if that success is not to stall. Nick said: “There’s been a gap in growing small and medium-sized enterprises to bigger companies compared to what happens in the United States. We have to understand better why companies haven’t been so successful in getting from research and development to selling products. We are developing new business models. Industry, NHS trusts, universities and local enterprise partnerships are building new collaborations to speed up the rate of innovation in drug discovery, new medical innovations and IT solutions and getting products to market.
“The NHS has arrived late to the innovation party. But the culture is changing and there is more of a focus on innovation. We are working on how to increase innovation and uptake at pace and at scale of new care pathways, apps and IT platforms within the NHS. There are opportunities to engage with clinicians to understand frontline problems and to bring together academics, clinicians and investors to find solutions. That will stimulate innovation and lead to us seeing more successful companies.
"We should also look at the broader regional perspective, where opportunities for business location, and supporting infrastructure, such as housing and communications, can be catalysed through more strategic partnerships between the universities, NHS partners, industry and Local Enterprise Partnerships across traditional county boundaries. This is something that the Oxford AHSN is looking to develop across its regional focus."
Key issues holding back growth identified during the discussion included:
- Availability of lab and office space
- Sources of funding – and how to access them
- Living costs
- Travel and infrastructure restrictions
Helping you do business with the NHS
The Oxford AHSN has organised a practical session for companies doing business with the NHS in response to some of the issues raised at Venturefest. We are bringing business, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) together with health professionals to focus on how best to do business with the NHS. Our conference will seek to resolve the constraints relating to supplying products and services to the health service. The procurement issues covered will be relevant to the life sciences industry, including pharma, medtech and other areas.
The conference is on 7 October 2014 at Green Park Conference Centre, Reading, 13.00-16.00. The details have yet to be finalised, but it is likely to involve a networking lunch followed by a workshop including presentations from key speakers, Q&A session and feedback. Updates will be posted here. There is a small charge to attend this event.