29 June 2023
BioFocus 2023 “Develop it here”
With a varied agenda, of key note speakers and panel sessions, the day provided an excellent forum to hear about the latest technologies, funding, and innovations in the sector, but also the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced.
With key note speakers, Sinclair Dunlop (Managing Director, Epidarex Capital) and Richard Hebdon (Director of Health & Life Sciences, Innovate UK), there were insightful presentations on research funding from venture capitalist and the UK’s innovation agency.
The need for early-stage investment in breakthrough life science companies was highlighted, with the need to take risks, to reap rewards. Innovate UK shared the governments vision for the UK to be a global hub for innovation by 2035 with innovation identified as the “life blood of business”. Details on the online “The innovation hub” were provided, which provides all public funding and support for innovation in one place.
A panel discussion in the morning on “State of the region in a national context” sparked important discussions around the challenge of accessing the NHS, particularly for small businesses. It was questioned, why, when it is easier to get traction in much larger markets abroad, would companies battle to access the NHS when it takes so much time, effort, and money to do so.
Exhibiting alongside key partners from the AHSN NENC and North East Innovation Lab, the event provided an excellent opportunity to showcase DxNE services and interact with experts from across the Life Sciences sector.
The issue of available lab space was also raised. With businesses required to find investment for laboratories to be built and fitted, before work on innovations can commence, the shortage of “ready to access” space was flagged as a real issue, particularly for new and emerging businesses.
An exciting panel session on “Development in Diagnostics” followed, chaired by Marie Labus, CEO, AMLo Biosciences. With presentations from Nanovery, QuantuMDx, CPI and the University of Sunderland, fantastic innovations in DNA nanorobots, and infection detecting bandages were shared.
Jonathan O’Halloran (CEO, QuantuMDx) demonstrtaed the journey of the QuantuMDx Q-POC device, including the challenges of manufacturing in the UK – with a push to the Chinese market.
In the final of the morning panel sessions, Mhairi Anderson, Operations Manager for Diagnostics North East, joined the “Develop it here” panel. Mhairi presented an overview of Diagnostics North East, showcasing the unrivalled skills and expertise in the region to support the end to end diagnostic development pathway.
The services offered by each partner were shared, highlighting the power of collaboration, and the need to clearly communicate to developers what we do.
The strengths of the diagnostics sector in the North East was celebrated, including the:
- Proximity of partners, and passion to work together
- Business support available – via the Newcastle Business and Partnerships team and Newcastle Hospitals Commercial Enterprise Team
- Facilities – with cutting edge facilites, ISO accredited laboratories within Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals.
- Collaborative power – The role of DxNE, not just as a service provider, but as a collaborative partner, e.g. to help secure grants.
“Develop it here” panel including (left to right): Bernard Golding, NewChem Technologies, Michael Maughan, MAC SciTech, Mhairi Anderson, Diagnostics North East, Alex Newman, National Horizons Centre (Chair), Steve Byard, Quotient Sciences
Imporant questions were raised by the audience regarding DxNEs regional reach, and the need to incorporate the regions other 4 outstanding University’s under the umbrella of DxNE. The desire for DxNE to collaborate with regional University’s, Trusts, and organistions, was strongly expressed, with a real passsion to ensure the region harness their collective strengths.
Mhairi Anderson, Operations Manager, Diagnostics North East said:
“We are very grateful to Bionow for inviting us to be part of such an engaging and interactive event. The mix of investors, small, medium and large industry, academia, clinicans and sector enablers, provided a fantastic forum for discussion, with key take away themes providing real food for thought. We are looking forward to seeing how we can work together to tackle some of the key challenges identifed as a regional collective”
David Holmes, Membership Manager, Bionow said: “BioFocus is our centrepiece event in the northeast, and once again the conference showcased some of the great assets and capabilities we have in the region, importantly providing a platform to bring people together both locally and much further afield as our sector continues to grow. ”
For information about Bionow, including membership options, please refer to the Bionow website.