London’s life sciences sector is calling on the capital’s tech community to help find solutions to the city’s most pressing health problems including: air pollution, diabetes, obesity, mental health issues and cardiovascular disease.
As part of London Tech Week, the HealthTech Innovators Conference, by MedCity, Tech London Advocates HealthTech Group, Asthma UK and DigitalHealth.London will today bring together 200 entrepreneurs to gain insight into healthcare demands and the wearables, devices and apps that could enhance, and even save, lives.1
Tackling London’s polluted air is a top priority for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who this week launched the Clean Tech Innovation Hub; a £1.6bn incubator to help 100 SMEs to deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products.2
Air pollution in cities is a major concern for 61 per cent of UK adults, according to a survey of over 2,000 UK adults conducted by MedCity, with more than half (57 per cent) agreeing that technology could provide a solution.3
Over 600,000 Londoners are living with asthma and two thirds of people with asthma say air pollution leaves them fighting for breath, according to Asthma UK. At a cost to the NHS of over £1bn annually, new technologies are needed to deliver personalised lifetime asthma support and reduce reliance on overstretched clinical services.4
Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, said: “Our most pressing environmental challenge is cleaning up London’s air, as almost 10,000 Londoners die prematurely each year, because of filthy London pollution. Clean air audits for schools, funding five new Low Emission Neighbourhoods and implementing a T-charge for the oldest most polluting vehicles in central London, are all high on the Mayor’s agenda.”
“London is Europe’s leading technology hub; our talent, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and global connections put us at the heart of digital technology. We are looking to this community to come up with smarter, more accessible ways for people to manage and improve their health.”
Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK, said: “We strongly believe new technologies like smart inhalers can support people to manage their asthma better – reducing life-threatening asthma attacks and easing the burden on the NHS. Using technology to monitor common asthma triggers such as pollution can play an important role in this.”
Robotic surgery and human organ cloning
The Populus survey of over 2,000 adults also showed that society is keen to get involved in health tech as 41 per cent would have a microchip installed in their body to monitor their health and 30 per cent would be happy to have surgery performed entirely by a robot.
London is the digital capital of Europe, ranked by the European Digital City index as the best city in Europe for digital entrepreneurs, and is a hotbed of digital talent, with 240,000 digital technology employees based in the city.
Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, comments, “London has established a reputation as a global destination for tech innovation due to the city’s wide range of digital specialisms and expertise. Just as tech is creating jobs and attracting investment, it can transform the way Londoners interact with each other, businesses and their city. With a critical mass of innovative tech companies we are now in a position for entrepreneurs to find digital answers to some of the city’s biggest challenges. I have every confidence that the burgeoning health tech sector will find answers to health-related issues such as impact from air pollution to obesity that were previously unimaginable.”
Sarah Haywood, CEO, MedCity, said: “Already, many of the world’s most innovative advances in digital healthcare are happening across London and the South East. Passionate tech experts are working alongside open, tech savvy patients to develop solutions to help them treat, monitor and record their health. We have drawn the big thinkers in digital health together to respond to the most common issues affecting London, including diabetes, mental health, and pollution, to create the solutions needed to lead to better, more personalised treatments, reduce hospital time and save the NHS money. Our work with companies as part of the digitalhealth.London Accelerator means that these innovative approaches are starting to get to patients, doctors and hospitals.”
DigitalHealth.London, a pan-London initiative created to support London as the global capital for digital health, is currently recruiting its second cohort of 30 digital health startups to its accelerator programme, which will see them work directly with the NHS in London to develop and commercialise their ideas.
Yinka Makinde, Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London: “The prosperity of a thriving digital health sector is not purely down to the entrepreneurs starting and leading new digital health companies. A larger piece of the success pie can be apportioned to the culture of the healthcare system that these companies are trying to sell in to. DigitalHealth.London’s broader remit in working directly with ‘buyers’ in the system, gives us a huge part to play in building knowledge of, and access to the genuinely great digital health solutions, amongst an often-overwhelming number of players, that have the potential to transform how healthcare is delivered and gradually shift the focus away from ‘illness management’ to health optimisation & self-care. Key, in the context of Asthma.”
Notes to Editor:
1. The HealthTech Innovators Conference on Thursday 15 June at King’s College London hosts speakers including:
• Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK
• Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, Greater London Authority
• Dr Anne Bruinvels, NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellow, CEO, Px Healthcare
• Dr Hamish Graham, Pfizer Healthcare Hub: London Manager, Pfizer
• Terry O’Neill, Head of Health, Knowledge Transfer Network
• Dr Ameet Bakhai, Consultant Cardiologist, Royal Free Hospital
2. At the launch of London Tech Week, the Mayor of London announced a new Clean Tech incubator for London to promote London’s first clean tech cluster – a 1.6bn Incubator to help 100 SMEs to deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products to tackle climate change.
3. Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,057 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 10th– 11th May 2017. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
4. Pollution, Asthma UK: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollution/
Launched in April 2014, MedCity is a collaboration between the Mayor of London, Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, King’s Health Partners, UCL Partners, Cambridge University Health Partners and Oxford Academic Health Science Centre.
MedCity exists to promote and grow life sciences investment, entrepreneurship, collaboration and industry in Cambridge, London, Oxford and the greater south east.
From drug discovery to devices, diagnostics and digital health, MedCity supports life sciences and healthcare companies, large and small, to do business in the golden triangle.
About Tech London Advocates HealthTech Group
TLA HealthTech helps technology innovators in healthcare to engage healthcare providers, investors, government agencies and mentors in the UK and internationally.
About Asthma UK
Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life threatening asthma attack, and three people die every day. Tragically the majority of these could be prevented, whilst others suffer with asthma so severe current treatments don’t work. This has to change. That’s why Asthma UK exists.
We work to stop asthma attacks and, ultimately cure asthma by funding world leading research and scientists, campaigning for improved care and supporting people with asthma to reduce their risk of an asthma attack. We are entirely funded by voluntary donations.
Stop asthma attacks. Cure asthma.
About Digital Health.London (DH.L)
Launched in 2016, DH.L is a partnership of three London Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) – UCLPartners, Health Innovation Network and Imperial College Health Partners – together with MedCity and NHS England. Set up to bring the health and care sectors closer to high potential solutions that can transform the delivery of care.