Health technology event explores ways to expand innovation for patient benefits

ABHI partnership event data panel

NIHR Imperial BRC showcased at a partnership event on strengthening the relationships between the NHS and industry.

The event was organised by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in partnership with the Shelford Group, a collaboration of ten of the largest research and teaching hospitals in England and the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI).

Last year, the Shelford Group and the ABHI, the UK’s leading HealthTech trade association, committed to a joint programme to offer solutions to some of the biggest challenges impacting the NHS. Imperial College Healthcare is the first in the Shelford Group to host an event as part of this programme. Over 40 health technology companies were among the attendees.

The event’s focus was on building awareness and understanding of how successful partnerships between NHS, communities, academia, and industry can support the development of technologies that meet the needs of patients and the NHS. This is in line with the Trust’s vision for Paddington Life Sciences (PLS), which aims to create a thriving ecosystem for life sciences research and innovation in northwest London.

The role of the BRC in supporting innovation

Through a series of panel discussions, the event showcased the role of the NIHR Imperial BRC in accelerating the uptake and spread of research and innovation.

Professor Mark Thursz, director of the NIHR Imperial BRC, chaired a panel discussion drawing on examples across the BRC themes of industry of successful industry engagement.

Senior BRC researchers showcased examples of how the research infrastructure can work with industry to accelerate the translation of new research, including the ORBITA-2 trial exploring the effect of heart stents, and the TRICORDER programme using AI stethoscopes to diagnose heart failure.

Unlocking the value of data and digital

Mr Erik Mayer, the NIHR Imperial BRC Digital Health Theme lead and director of iCARE and the Digital Collaboration Space, chaired a discussion of examples and key learnings from existing digital health partnerships to enable the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. This included using AI to improve both clinical and administrative efficiency and deliver improved outcomes. The panel also discussed the effective involvement of communities and patients to deliver safe and equitable technologies.

Speaking at the event, Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and chair of the Shelford Group, said: “There’s a constant debate about how the NHS can be a better partner to organisations developing technologies that address the needs of the NHS. We’re hoping this will be the first in a series of events to build stronger relationships between the NHS and industry and support the development of technologies that are of real use to our patients and the NHS.”

Peter Ellingworth, chief executive of the ABHI, who also spoke at the event, said: “Whether you’re in the NHS or industry, we need to gain a better understanding of each other. A big opportunity lies in understanding each other to a level of intensity that lets us run our businesses and health systems with real purpose and change that overcomes inertia.”

The event was also an opportunity to explore some of the wider considerations and challenges of health technology innovation in the UK, with a focus on the increased regulatory challenges facing the industry.

Collaboration to create value

The importance of how partnerships between the NHS and industry can help deliver social, health and commercial value was emphasised in a discussion led by Professor Bob Klaber, Imperial College Healthcare director of strategy, research and innovation.

The discussion drew on examples from the Trust’s PLS development. As part of this, the Trust is working with several local partners, including Vodafone, on projects that aim to deliver social value to local communities in Paddington.

Speaking on the next steps, Professor Bob Klaber, said: “This event discussion around how we best move forward with our research, innovation and life sciences work as an organisation, in partnership with the College, and with industry as a wider system, contributed very fully to what felt like a productive day. The ultimate test of that will be from the impact of the collaborations and partnerships that we hope will follow from it.”

  • Dr Rasha Al-Lamee
    Dr Rasha Al-Lamee
    Clinical Senior Lecturer - Co-Theme Lead
  • Erik Mayer
    Erik Mayer
    Director iCARE & Clinical Reader, Department of Surgery & Cancer
  • Professor Anthony Bull
    Professor Anthony Bull
    Professor of Musculoskeletal Mechanics
  • Professor Mark Thursz
    Professor Mark Thursz
    NIHR Imperial BRC Director
  • Professor Phil Bennett
    Professor Phil Bennett
    Theme Lead, Reproductive & Early Life Health
  • Dr Bob Klaber
    Dr Bob Klaber
    Director of strategy, research and innovation
  • Sarindi K Aryasinghe
    Sarindi K Aryasinghe
    Programme Manager Digital Health in Patient Experience