SMEs and start-ups embark on programme to bring innovative health solutions to market

An accelerator programme which could put start-up and SME Yorkshire firms at the forefront of the transformation of healthcare in the UK has begun this week.

Northern MAX, funded by Bradford Council and AD:Venture via ERDF grants, is being run at the Digital Health Enterprise Zone (DHEZ) in Bradford by Innov8tive Minds.

“It’s not about disrupting for disrupting’s sake. This cohort of people are passionate about what they are doing, for the good of the health sector,” said Amanda Lennon, managing director of Innov8ive Minds.

The programme will see 20 start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs go through a series of sessions throughout the 12-week programme that will cover all topics from research and development to how to access the market and navigate the complex healthcare tender process.

The cohort is made up of some already working within the health sector, as well as academics and tech entrepreneurs. One firm is looking to bring to market 3D printing for replacement plaster casts and others are looking to introduce apps and other digital innovations to help drive efficiency.

The cohort will have the opportunity to meet and test their technology with frontline and purchasing personnel including GPs, clinicians, public and private health and care organisations.

Lennon, who will run the programme with the support of several sponsor organisations and colleagues at the DHEZ, said it was about helping businesses gain opportunities to enter the healthcare frameworks and procurement processes, building up the right product and the way in which to pitch it to the correct people.

Lennon said: “My own passion and drive is in supporting tech start-ups and helping drive innovation in health and social care. I have taken a few companies through the complicated process before and it’s about knowing how to pitch potential solutions to NHS services.

“Our aim is to get the cohort as close to market as possible the end of the programme. Our goal is to open the door to their first customers  and it’s really rewarding.”

She added that it was important to get new start-ups and SMEs to think about how they fit into the ecosystem, especially as Bradford is “on the map” for digital health care innovations already, which Lennon feels could play a major part futureproofing the NHS.

Lennon added: “It’s a really exciting place to be. The UK’s healthcare system is really interesting and the world is challenged by an ageing population. We have a fantastic health service here and being able to help future proof the system through innovative technology  will help improve health care  even further.

“The Bradford postcode is really becoming a test bed for medtech innovations and it’s great to be a part of that.”

The programme’s partners include  Clarion, Grant Thornton, Santander, Silicon Valley Bank, Atom Bank, Mercia/Enterprise Ventures/Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Transmit Startup Loans.

Innov8tive Minds is a venture development agency that has worked globally with central and local
governments on  entrepreneur and investor ecosystems for over 15 years. For the last two years, the company has worked with the DHEZ to increase the success of digital health technologies reaching and being adopted within health and social care environments. One of the most successful projects to date was an idea from a GP for transformation of out of hours service delivery via an app.