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West Midlands Health Tech Cluster: Innovation accelerators

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A rare new spending commitment in February’s Levelling Up White Paper was a £100M fund for three new Innovation Accelerators to be set up in Glasgow, the North-West and the West Midlands. The funding is to be processed through Innovate UK and the three region’s proposals are required to be the product of co-creation.

Here in the West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the elected Mayor Andy Street, have the lead in developing the region’s proposals.

The Mayor is guided by the West Midlands Innovation Board which has extensive experience of what works in promoting, supporting and sustaining innovative ideas, products and services.

The Board has maintained a Virtual Innovators’ Team for several years and this is itself an innovative approach – credited with influencing the choice of the West Midlands as one of the beneficiaries of the Innovation Accelerators funding.

The Virtual Innovators Team comprises experts across several key sectors, for example precision engineering and modern manufacturing, and also in important cross-sector thematic approaches such as sustainability.

At the Health Technologies Cluster we host the health tech sector expert, Emma Yeap.

The West Midlands Innovation Board has developed extensive networks throughout the region with a focus on identifying innovation capable of being developed, scaled up and made mainstream.

These networks have been engaged in helping with the co-creation of the region’s proposals for a new Innovation Accelerator.

Whilst the links though to the region’s massive and successful engineering and manufacturing sectors is expected to be a key feature of the region’s proposals, the Cluster has made the case for health tech and life sciences to be prominent because of the huge potential for growth and giant leaps forward in these areas.

The process of developing the proposals and gaining Innovate UK’s approval for them is very thorough and thus quite time-consuming.

At the end of what could well be a full year’s work, we will know clearly what the innovation priorities for the West Midlands will be.

In the case of the Cluster, we would very much hope to see a continuance of the region’s successful approach to innovation – both in priority sectors and in cross-sector thematic approaches – and a central role for fostering innovation in medtech, health tech and clean tech.

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