Medilink NOE News Summer 2020 Summer 2020 - Page 2

FOREWORD Welcome to the latest edition of Medilink North of England News, reflecting the breadth of Medilink’s North of England membership and the wider Health Sector. In this edition you will see a focus on Covid-19 and beyond, with perspectives from across the sector to give you greater insight into what it means for your organsiation. Set against our thematic backdrops, our forewords feature leading figures from across the Northern economy, involved in driving growth in the Health Sector – in this issue our CEO Kevin Kiely discusses the effect of Covid-19 and how our sector is playing a key role in fighting it, and creating economic growth beyond it. The views of Foreword contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Medilink. It seems a lifetime since the news in January 2020 of a mystery respiratory virus in China, with the spread of this virus subsequently leading the WHO to declare a Covid-19 global pandemic and the British Government to announce its lock down on 23rd March. Almost overnight, we all had to adjust to a completely new way of life: working from home, furloughing, social distancing, not seeing loved ones, Zoom meetings, home tutoring etc. The self-sacrifice of frontline health and care workers, who have put their lives on the line on a daily basis to support the sick and save lives has been applauded (literally on our doorsteps), and so too has been the dedication of the management teams supporting this monumental effort. What we have also seen in our daily news feeds is a glimpse of the extraordinary contribution being made by our health technology businesses and by research institutions to preserve life and get us back to some form of normality. Member companies have been working around the clock to produce urgently needed medical devices, whether this be precision engineered components / sensors for ventilators, bed head trunking, nurse call systems, ICU beds/equipment etc. We also have members that have repurposed their manufacturing facilities to produce urgently required protective equipment. As the immediate risk of the NHS being overwhelmed passed, focus turned to testing and we are proud to have members that are taking a leading role in the development of Covid-19 antigen and antibody tests. Of course, the present crisis has also had a major detrimental effect on many of our companies, with the cancellation of elective surgery (not only in the UK but in countries across the world) hitting suppliers badly, and the suspension of NHS trials creating real issues for pre revenue companies with transformative health technologies, that cannot move forward and cannot secure investment without the clinical evidence. Research and development has also been severely limited in our universities. 2 KEVIN KIELY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MEDILINK NORTH OF ENGLAND LIMITED Never before has collaboration been more important and the Medilink team has been working all out to enhance connectivity and secure new partnerships. Initially this took the form of brokerage in the supply of priority products (collaborating with DIT and Local Enterprise Partnerships). This developed into facilitating new partnerships for the development of Covid-19 tests, and throughout the crisis we have been actively promoting regional success stories and liaising with key government agencies such as the Office for Life Sciences which has done an excellent job of galvanising connectivity at a national level and disseminating up to date intelligence. During this horrendous crisis where so many lives have been lost and our economy destabilised, we are now beginning to look for positive legacies. Remote communication is seen as one such legacy both in the delivery of health and social care and in our daily lives with more people working from home resulting in less traffic, less pollution and an improved quality of life. Another important legacy would be for the current high levels of collaboration between government departments, life science businesses, research institutions and healthcare delivery organisations, to continue and to become the new norm. Examples of which could be combined authorities /LEPs working with local NHS trusts to support the resumption of SME trials (particularly where the future of the SME could be at stake) and at a national level, with the NHS liaising with industry on the resumption of clinical services, as supply can’t be turned on overnight following major disruption to company supply chains. One final legacy which Medilink would champion, is for UK Government to initiate long term interventions to support and nurture our indigenous UK Lifescience industry, recognising from our experience over the last six months, that we cannot totally rely on international corporations for the health and security of our nations. In this issue, we are proud to be able to present some examples of how our members in the North of England have made a major contribution to mitigating the worst effects of the Covid-19 crisis and how we must look to the future, including how we rapidly internationalise and secure new markets for our innovations. WESTMINSTER LOOK NORTH… COVID-19 AND BEYOND If someone tapped me on the shoulder and said it was December 31st, it really would be no surprise, given the sheer number of things that have taken place in the first half of 2020. While the country’s focus was placed on the next phase of Brexit, with our sector keenly looking at the regulatory and trading frameworks it was set to create, Covid-19 struck and changed our lives, potentially, forever. There is great emphasis placed on Covid-19 across this edition of Medilink News, and the incredible effort our sector has gone to in protecting frontline staff and ensuring the NHS can still operate, so I will not Medilink UK has appointed Mr Kevin Kiely as its first CEO. Kevin was a co-founder of the Medilink model over twenty-five years ago, which for the first time brought together, in a formal regional association, the Health Technology and related Life Science industry, the NHS and universities, to drive innovation across the sector. At the same time, Kevin will retain his position of CEO, Medilink North of England. During this time, he has developed a deep understanding and connectivity with the sector throughout the UK and overseas, which plays a key role in the health and wealth of the nation. Kevin is uniquely placed to work with national agencies to ensure that the needs of the Health Technology and related Life Sciences sector are fully considered in all future developments and that opportunities, post Covid-19 and Brexit, are realised. Bill Cruise, Medilink UK Chairman said, “The strength of Medilink UK continues to be the in-depth relationships that its constituent Medilink organisations have in regions across the UK. labour the point here. While this edition of Medilink News rightly focusses on Covid-19, we cannot ignore Brexit and the opportunity that a drive from Westminster to ‘Look North’ affords the Northern economy, and the stories in these pages should act as a rallying call to both our sector and Westminster in helping the UK prosper post Covid-19 and Brexit. On January 31st, we officially left the EU but we are yet to understand what our future relationship will be with the block, as late as June the UK formally told the EU it will not seek a transition period extension, maintaining the UK will go its own way, if a deal is not struck by December the 31st 2020. Within this environment of uncertainty, a major issue our member companies face is regulation, including the inexorable countdown to the implementation of the new European Medical Device Regulations or the MDR in May 2021 (extended from May 2020 due to Covid-19 in April this year). Medilink was commissioned by Innovate UK to undertake a national survey on the preparedness of SMEs for MDR and the MEDILINK UK APPOINTS NEW CEO result was that the majority were very poorly prepared. This situation has been exacerbated by the demise of the Notified Body infrastructure, there are currently only a small amount of Notified Bodies across the entirety of Europe to undertake CE marking audits under the MDR, with only one of these being UK based, due to this and at the request of our Regional Medilink Advisory Groups, Medilink has also become much more proactive in the regulatory space. We have organised events, completed a national SME readiness survey, and directly worked with UK Government departments and ministers in seeking a solution to the problem. At an operational level we have also launched ‘Medilink Regulatory’ which combines our own internal resource with that of professional regulatory consultants acting as Medilink Associates, which you can find detail of in these pages. Jason Brannan, PR and Communications Director Medilink NOE “However, the sector is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities, and it has become clear that Medilink UK needs to play a more proactive national role if opportunities are to be maximised. I am therefore delighted to announce the appointment of Medilink UK’s first national CEO, Kevin Kiely.” Kevin Kiely said, “Having been involved in the development of regional Medilink organisations across the UK for over 25 years, and seeing the Medilink UK infrastructure grow to a point where it is now the largest representative body for the Health Technology industry, I understand many of the challenges facing its organisations, not least the demands of Covid-19, Brexit and the new Medical & IVD regulations. However, I can also see major opportunities, particularly for international trade, in rapidly growing markets for health technology products outside of Europe. “Support in fast tracking innovation (investment, R&D and product adoption) and in driving internationalisation, will be key in 2020, and I look forward to contributing to national developments that will not only stimulate growth in the Health Technology sector but also lead to better health outcomes.” 3