Published on 17/10/2023
Female scientist in a white coat looking down a microscope in a lab
  • The West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator (WMHTIA) is being led by the University of Birmingham
  • WMHTIA has received £14 million from the West Midlands Combined Authorities’ Innovation Accelerator, part of an Innovate UK-funded programme
  • The project will unite universities, hospitals, industry and government-funded ‘Catapults’ to help bring new medical and healthcare technologies into the UK market

Aston University is joining the University of Birmingham and multiple other delivery partners in a project to drive new healthcare technologies towards commercialisation.

Called the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator (WMHTIA), the project has received £14 million in funding from the West Midlands Combined Authorities’ Innovation Accelerator, which is part of an Innovate UK-funded programme.

The project is focused on addressing the challenges of bringing new medical and healthcare technologies into the UK market. It aims to unite key players in universities, hospitals, industry and government-funded ‘Catapults’ for manufacturing innovation to help companies navigate pinch-points in the commercialisation process.

Together these approaches support the West Midlands Plan for Growth by aiming to create a cluster of commercial activity, helping drive economic growth and enhance resilience. They will also ensure that local patients will benefit first from new medical technologies targeted at reducing healthcare inequalities in the region.

Project lead, Professor Liam Grover, of the University of Birmingham’s Healthcare Technologies Institute, said: “Commercialising new healthcare and medical technologies can be fraught with regulatory hurdles and big funding gaps. Our approach will help companies make sure they are taking the right steps, addressing a clearly defined healthcare need and working with the right partners to achieve success in the marketplace.”

Professor Rachel O’Reilly, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Birmingham, said: “The West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator will not only generate commercial activity in the healthcare and medical technologies sector, it will supercharge a cluster of activity in the West Midlands, boosting the regional economy by attracting in excess of £80M in private investment over the next 2-3 years.”

Dr Kath Mackay, Director of Life Sciences, Bruntwood SciTech said: “We are proud to be part of the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator, leveraging our experience to create the ideal environment for fledgling businesses to thrive. 

Our two Birmingham campuses, Innovation Birmingham and the new Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, will offer exciting startups access to specialist, world-class workspace and infrastructure, along with expert business support to access highly skilled talent, funding, new markets and product development; in short, everything they need to become investable propositions, as well as being fully plugged into our national network of life science hubs in Cambridge, Cheshire and Manchester.”

Dr Graham Hoare OBE, Chief Executive Officer, the MTC, said: “We’re excited to be a part of the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator. Our innovative ideas and expertise will help businesses to launch and manufacture their products with ease, supporting economic growth in the Healthcare and Medical Technology sectors.”

Plug and Play, a leading innovation platform, is set to join the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator to contribute to the growth and scaling of health technology within the programme. 

Kieran Borrett, Director of Plug and Play UK, said: “We are proud to bring Plug and Play Health to the UK and be selected as one of the delivery organisations of the WMHTIA. Plug and Play have been investing, accelerating and supporting startups to scale for over 30 years; we are excited to support a new generation of world changing companies through our global healthcare ecosystem.”

Dr Antonio Fratini, leading the Engineering for Health Centre at Aston University, said: “We are delighted to be part of the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator which will significantly foster the development of our region. Our collective expertise in the field will support R&D&I associated with medical device prototyping along the 4Ds (devices, diagnostics, digital and data) as well as training and development of innovation, entrepreneurship, and regulatory framework.” 

Other partners in the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator include the University of Warwick (West Midlands Health and Wellbeing Innovation Network, Warwick Manufacturing Group), Birmingham City University, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Medilink Midlands, Shoosmiths, Azets, Acuwomen, Smallfry Ltd, The Technology Supply Chain, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Health Partners, Bruntwood SciTech, Precision Health Technologies Accelerator, Cogniss, Element Materials Technology, Plug and Play and the West Midlands Growth Company.

For more information visit the WMHTIA website or Aston University's WMHTIA information webpage.

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Notes to editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming the Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

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About the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 8,000 international students from over 150 countries.


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