New Midlands incubator for medtech companies

Dr. Richard Williams, CEO of Healome Therapeutics, in Unit 9

University of Birmingham Enterprise, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and West Midlands Combined Authority have announced the launch of Unit 9 – a new medical technology incubator which provides flexible, cost-effective facilities for medical research, proof of concept and prototyping activity.

Unit 9 is a short-term incubator that aims to fill the gap for start-ups that need space, equipment and facilities, but lack the funding for initial equipment.

This new space will directly support the West Midlands’ aspiration to be at the forefront of medical innovation, helping companies looking to develop innovative devices, medicines, procedures or systems to solve a health problem or improve life quality. By developing industries around these activities, it will help retain businesses and talent in the region.

The Unit 9 Incubator is a fantastic initiative supported by the West Midlands Innovation Program. The sector analysis identified a clear need for short term laboratory space and the pilot incubator was approved by the West Midlands Innovation Board. This initiative strengthens our innovation ecosystem and supports the region’s ambitions to develop the health and medical technologies cluster. I hope that the proposals submitted for the regional innovation accelerator will build on this initiative and generate new capacities in this area.

Dr Jamie Elliott, Head of Innovation for the West Midlands Combined Authority

David Coleman, CEO of the University of Birmingham Enterprise, said: “The West Midlands has strengths that are the building blocks for future health innovation – expertise in digital healthcare and health data , companies rooted in diagnostics and testing, and a strong background in manufacturing Medical Equipment. The Midlands is producing medical innovation, but there is no short-term incubation specifically for medical technology start-ups, so the region risks losing these young innovative companies, along with the jobs and the training opportunities they could offer.

David Hardman, Acting Vice President, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said: “Scaling start-ups is key to achieving GBSLEP’s mission to drive inclusive and sustainable growth. . Through our regular engagement with companies, we understand how important it is for growing medical technology companies to have access to the right space and talent. This is why Unit 9 will play an important role in strengthening the reputation of this region by supporting growing businesses in this sector.

Dr Jamie Elliott, Head of Innovation for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “The Unit 9 Incubator is a fantastic initiative supported by the West Midlands Innovation Programme. The sector analysis identified a clear need for short term laboratory space and the pilot incubator was approved by the West Midlands Innovation Board. This initiative strengthens our innovation ecosystem and supports the region’s ambitions to develop the health and medical technologies cluster. I hope that the proposals presented for the regional innovation accelerator will build on this initiative and generate new capacities in this field.

Unit 9 is based at Birmingham Research Park, a location that provides easy access to the university campus and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Tenants will also benefit from commercial support provided by the University of Birmingham Enterprise, an equipment sharing agreement with the University of Birmingham and facilities for cell culture or microbiology work at BioHub Birmingham® .

The West Midlands has strengths that are the building blocks of future health innovation – expertise in digital healthcare and health data, businesses rooted in diagnostics and testing, and a strong track record in the manufacture of medical devices. The Midlands is producing medical innovation, but there is no short-term incubation specifically for medical technology start-ups, so the region risks losing these young innovative companies, along with the jobs and the training opportunities they could offer.

David Coleman, CEO of the University of Birmingham Enterprise

Companies applying for a 9-unit rental do not need to have a formal business plan, but will need to articulate their future plans and ambitions during the application process.

License fees are based on a tiered rent model that matches third-year commercial rents. The pricing model provides a realistic timeline for companies to refine their business and achieve development milestones. GBSLEP’s Growth Hub business support specialists will work with businesses so that they can transfer their operations to a new base in the West Midlands region at the end of the license term. Data-driven health and life sciences is one of GBSLEP’s key priority areas to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

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