Enterprise in Health

9th March 2021
Today’s report builds on our previous work, particularly around exploring the potential to leverage NHS data for the purposes of research and innovation in healthcare. We believe this area ought to be explored further, not only to compare our findings against enterprising activities in less prolific and research intense Trusts and universities, but also to assess the performance of support for enterprise and innovation for the Government’s levelling up agenda. Dr. Josefine Magnusson

In 2020, the Chancellor announced plans to increase R&D investment in the UK to £22bn per annum by 2024-5. This pledge reflects the Government’s commitment, set out in its Research and Development Roadmap, to make the UK a ‘science superpower’ and a more attractive place for entrepreneurs to invest and operate. To achieve this, the Academic Health Science Network has stressed the importance of collaboration between different aspects of the innovation landscape including industry, academic institutions, and the NHS. 

The developers of data driven technologies and innovative solutions for health and care are often R&D intensive. Many companies spin out of academic institutes and the UK government is committed to boosting innovation and enterprise in association with academia. The 2.4% R&D target and the passage of the ARIA bill through parliament are key policy initiatives in this domain.   

In previous reports, Future Care Capital (FCC) has explored the potential to leverage NHS data for the purposes of research and innovation in healthcare, in particular, in relation to medical imaging data and the development of next-generation medical devices. This report builds upon that work and examines the extent to which a subset of academics and clinicians are involved in enterprise activity. A novel and explorative approach was deployed which used publicly available data to better understand the contribution that academics and clinicians who work for universities and NHS Trusts involved in healthcare innovation currently make. 

Key findings 

  • Identifying which clinicians and academics are involved in health innovation enterprises is extremely challenging using publicly available data, and this limits our understanding of the extent of such involvement.  
  • The health innovation landscape is heavily male dominated, with 80-90% of the companies we found being linked to men. 
  • Companies operating in data and technology appeared to be more readily identified using our methodology than companies linked to pharmaceutical discovery and manufacture. 
  • Echoing findings from our previous work; among NHS Trusts, Acute Trusts appear to be linked to significantly greater involvement in health enterprise than Mental Health, Community or Ambulance Trusts. 
  • We could identify only very limited geographical overlap between the two sectors (Universities and NHS Trusts), despite the highlighted need for collaboration between different aspects of the R&D ecosystem. 
  • Enterprise in Health - Report (March 2021)
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