02 September 2019

Here’s why Cambridge is the place for biotech and healthcare innovation


Nadia Gracias
Associate | UK

Cambridge takes its place on the global healthcare stage

The UK market for digital health solutions grew to £2.9 billion in 2018. Digital health systems represent the largest market both globally and in the UK, where they contribute 66% of digital health sales. The UK is second in biopharma jobs* with 114,000 of a total of approximately 235,000 life sciences jobs which include medical devices and other med-tech specialities.

In 2017, the UK announced £146 million of government money over four years for five projects which will support advanced therapies, advanced medicines and vaccines development and manufacturing. The programme is expected to leverage a further £253 million from partners, and an additional £14m in funding was added in 2017 to support 11 medical technology research centres to encourage collaboration between the NHS and industry in developing and bringing new technologies to patients through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Cambridge, part of the ‘golden triangle’ comprised of London and Oxford, is flush with biotech companies*, including Horizon Discovery, which is developing cell therapies and new versions of the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. In January 2019, the UK venture capital fund Cambridge Innovation Capital, backed by the University of Cambridge, raised €175M (£150M) in 2019 to spend on life science and technology companies in the Cambridge area.

Technology innovation in healthcare is expected to bring more value for less, applying next-generation sequencing, 3D-printed devices and novel immunotherapies alongside improved point-of-care diagnostics, virtual reality (VR) for PTSD, artificial intelligence (AI) that speeds diagnostics, biosensors to determine the efficacy of a prescription and telehealth to connect patients to providers more efficiently.

The source of innovation has distinctly shifted from the traditional big pharmaceutical companies to biotech, thus opening up new market segments such as med-tech, health tech, food-tech and digital health – that are not only transforming the delivery of healthcare but creating new applications that improve point-of-care diagnostics, processing massive volumes of data with AI for genetic research, transforming emergency room management and using AR and VR in robotic surgery telemedicine with virtual doctors and nurses.

‘Why Cambridge is the Place for Biotech and Healthcare Innovation’ is a three-part blog series on innovation in biotech taking place in Cambridge that is driving the future of healthcare and diagnostics while highlighting critical legal elements such as data, privacy, intellectual property and ongoing GDPR compliance.

Nadia Gracias, an intellectual property and life-sciences solicitor with Withers tech in Cambridge looks at some critical issues that digital health companies should be aware of in the first article in the series, ‘Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Data Analytics in Digital Health’

Footnotes

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