MedCity and the Design Council have today launched a competition to win a ten-week accelerator coaching course for medtech entrepreneurs to develop effective, usable and commercially successful health technologies that can support older people or those with debilitating medical conditions to lead more independent lives.
The MedTechSouthEast programme, supported by AXA PPP healthcare, gives south-east based individuals and teams with a technology at proof of concept stage a chance to compete for one of ten places on the intensive course, which will be led by design experts and medical technology industry leaders.
The ten finalists will also be automatically entered into the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards 2016, an initiative that aims to recognise, celebrate and showcase the best in personal health technology innovations.
Dr Eliot Forster, MedCity’s Executive Chair, says:
“The development of new affordable technologies is opening up significant opportunities for how we manage and monitor out health. Good design is fundamental in creating a product that people want to use, and is especially important when it comes to independent living, which demands that companies look at challenges from a user’s point of view and come up with imaginative, practical and above all user-friendly solutions.
“We’re delighted to be working with Design Council to give med tech entrepreneurs this unique chance to unlock the full commercial and medical potential of their ideas.”
The competition is now open to entries from entrepreneurs with a technology addressing any aspect of independent living. This could include remote monitoring or alarm systems, memory aides for people with conditions such as dementia, or assistive technologies to help with everyday tasks such as switching lights on and off, preparing meals or answering the door.
The only qualifying rules are that the product must be non-invasive and user-centres, and the individual or team must be based in the greater south east region.
Design Council’s Chief Executive John Mathers explained:
“An ageing population and over-burdened public services, coupled with a sharp rise in life-changing health technology, has meant that an increasing amount of people want – and need – to live more autonomously. We have a fantastic pool of innovation talent in Britain, it just needs to be harnessed, and this scheme aims to do just that. MedTechSouthEast will promote the delivery of user-centred medtech which could revolutionise people’s lives and also help save money for our public services.”
The theme was chosen by the partners due to the increasing opportunities presented by the convergence of healthcare and technology to improve quality of life while also reducing healthcare expenditure. The new technology will help people spend less time in hospital or doctor’s surgeries and maintain a more independent lifestyle in their own homes.
James Freeston, Marketing Director, AXA PPP healthcare said:
“The health technology revolution provides a real opportunity to inspire behavioural change and enable people to take greater control of their own and their families’ health. We are delighted to be able to support the MedTechSouthEast programme and help inspire innovators and designers to create new health tech can help older generations live a more fulfilled and independent life.”
During the accelerator process, Design Council’s team of expert Design Associates will lead the successful applicants through the process of developing a market-ready product, giving them unparalleled access to industry, skills, knowledge and experience.
Over the last decade, Design Council has worked with universities, research bodies and tech start-ups to develop exciting medtech solutions for key health and social challenges. In particular, its highly successful Design Challenges programme, Living Well With Dementia, addressed issues around independent living and launches innovative new services and products – see more below.
Online entry for proposals is now open and closes on Friday 23 October, following which entries will be processed and judged by a team of design and med tech industry experts. Fifteen selected finalists will then present their technologies at a pitching event to industry leaders, investors and potential commercial partners. The winning ten individuals or teams at this event will then develop their product at an intensive two day workshop followed by a ten-week hands-on accelerator coaching programme.
Living Well With Dementia – medtech case studies
Ode – a fragrance-release system to stimulate appetite in people with dementia
Weight-loss is common amongst people in later stage dementia, due to problems with chewing and swallowing and forgetting to eat due to memory loss. Ode, developed through the Design Council’s Living Well with Dementia initiative, releases three food fragrances each day to coincide with meal times, creating a more compelling and less stigmatising stimulation to eat than an alarm or reminders by carers.
In trials, 52% of participants gained weight after Ode was installed, and it is now a limited company selling in the UK, Norway and the Netherlands.
Buddi – easy-to-wear personal alarm wristband
Personal alarms that support independence for the elderly and people with other medical conditions by ensuring they can get help when they need it are widely available. However in practice they are often not worn because they are unattractive and cumbersome, and can make users feel stigmatised and vulnerable; they also often do not work outside the home.
Buddi is a wristband that is comfortable and discreet, and has a rechargeable battery with a life of at least two months. It is also multifunctional, with features including manual and automatic alerts, and lifestyle monitoring that can track daytime activity and night-time sleep so that the progression of conditions such as dementia can be followed.