Matt Hancock MP, was on a visit to the region to highlight new technologies and to outline his intentions of digital health, listing digital health innovation that improves care for patients, as one of his top three initial priorities.
On his visit to iCentrum, Innovation Birmingham’s digital campus in Birmingham, the Health Secretary was introduced to the digital health team, the Serendip® Digital Health Incubator and the WM Digital Health Accelerator by Commercial Director, Tony Davis and Lead for Digital Health West Midlands, Neil Mortimer.
Matt Hancock MP met up with a number of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) leading on digital innovations support by the Digital Health West Midlands team. Sitting at the heart of the iCentrum building, the Serendip Digital Health Incubator provides market access and expertise for digital start-ups and SMEs through close partnerships with major organisations, thereby accelerating the early growth of new business.
GiveVision, one of the start-ups/SMEs at Serendip working in collaboration with WMAHSN-DHWM as commercial partner, gave the Secretary of State an impressive run-through of their innovative products and an opportunity to try out one of them. Stan Karpenko, CEO of GiveVision, explained how the virtual-reality solution enhances sight for people with particular types of Macular Degeneration and gave Matt Hancock MP the task of reading a passage of text with a pair of the VR glasses.
Stan said: “Our goal is to eradicate the barriers preventing people living with sight loss from living full and independent lives. GiveVision exists primarily to provide innovative accessibility solutions to empower increased numbers of blind and visually-impaired people into mainstream society, education, and employment. Being part of the digital health community-based in the Digital Health quarter of the Serendip Smart City Incubator has delivered many benefits for GiveVision including collaboration with businesses in the digital incubators at iCentrum such as Barclays Digital Eagles, Transport for WM, Tata Motors, and GymShark.”
Another SME at Serendip who spoke to the Health Secretary was Rich Westman, the CEO of Birmingham-based pioneering digital health company, Kaido Wellbeing. Westman has created a workforce wellbeing platform that uses smart technology and access to world-leading Artificial Intelligence to empower individuals and their communities to make educated lifestyle choices. He reflected on Hancock’s visit saying: “We are hugely grateful to Matt Hancock for coming to see what we are doing for digital health innovations at Kaido. It was an absolute privilege to present our work and talk all things workforce health and technology.”
In 2018, following an introduction from WMAHSN-DHWM, Kaido’s health and well-being challenges were launched to 9,000 staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. In the challenges, points are rewarded based on positive improvements that participants make to their daily activities.
Further along his tour of the innovation building, Matt Hancock met the DHWM team and gained a good understanding of the Digital Health Ambassadors’ role and how they help SMEs to find the right parts of the NHS to approach and target viable investment routes such as venture capital and NHS Test Beds. The Secretary of State also gained an insight into the emerging theme of SMEs using NHS contracts to lever entry into private sector markets. For example, Kaido’s contracts with NHS Trusts led to large deals with KPMG and Müller, consequently driving workforce productivity beyond the region’s health sector. Hancock was also very interested in the WMAHSN SME Innovation Fund and its use of venture capital to support SMEs – particularly the ability of SMEs to opt to convert the loan into equity, giving the NHS and AHSNs a stake in digital businesses, a model already adopted in universities and academia.
Before leaving, the Secretary of State met Katie Buckingham of Altruist Enterprises, a provider of tailored training for organisations, which use artificial intelligence to personalise content to prevent, identify and tackle stress within workplaces. Katie raised important topics on employee mental health and the government's £300m pledge towards mental health staff in schools. Matt Hancock then spent some time with the B13 Technology team who are developing digital clinical guidance for community-based clinicians, before ending his visit with Tony Davis and Neil Mortimer sharing his insights and views of the growth of digital health and innovation.
Neil Mortimer, Lead for Digital Health West Midlands, said: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, was able to visit WMAHSN’s Digital Health West Midlands and offer his support for digital health innovation.
Digital Health West Midlands are well on their way to building a sustainable digital innovation network, which has a regional, national and international impact. DHWM will provide the conduit of connectivity and revolutionise the potential to increase the possibilities of new and emerging technologies like blockchain, virtual reality and artificial intelligence services. This will bring together clinicians, developers, businesses, patients and researchers, to develop solutions that enhance health and social care whilst using the same networks, changing not only the way we interact with technology but how we work and live.”
Click here to view photos from the Secretary of State's visit.