Brands2Life Health Tech Trends 2024

Navigating the dynamic and evolving
health technology landscape

Is this a new dawn for biotech and medtech? Can the UK retain its own home-grown innovators or will the smoother waters in Europe and the US be calling? At Brands2Life’s Health Tech Trends webinar, we were joined by Rory Cellan-Jones, former Technology Editor at the BBC, Nicole Raleigh from Pharmaphorum, and biotech VC Dr. Uzma Chowdry, as we discussed the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. This is what we learnt.

Biotech sector shows encouraging signs of growth after boom and bust cycles
  • Post Covid saw high levels of investment in biotech as this burgeoning sector showed exciting promise. However, longer investment timescales and slower results led to a mismatch of valuations vs reality.
  • Despite a significant amount of capital in the market, appetite for funding stalled amid the economic downturn.
  • However, there are encouraging signs of optimism returning. The last two quarters have shown an uplift and the forecast for biotech has grown 14% year on year to $3 trillion by 2030.
  • An aging population and prevalence of chronic diseases is driving this focus, together with renewed interest from pharma companies as they look to divest away from expiring drug patents.
The UK market is a challenge for health tech start-ups, despite remarkable innovation
  • Despite hearing for years that the digital revolution will upend the health sector it is only just starting to happen.
  • Cost and policy barriers are hindering innovative technologies from coming to market, limiting patient access to treatments. In addition, the integration of technologies into the NHS has been slow, often hindered by the resistance to invest and interoperability challenges, despite initial enthusiasm during pilot trials.
  • In contrast, Europe and the US have a more harmonised regulatory environment and wider funding opportunities, providing an attractive draw to British start-ups.
AI and data is the backbone of tomorrow’s healthcare
  • The potential of AI in healthcare was a focal point, with discussions around its role in accelerating drug discovery and driving productivity.
  • Pioneering innovations like Robotech’s miniature robots, which sent data to the clinician from the surface of the patient’s brain to enhance surgical precision and AlphaFold’s Protein Structure Database which promises to help speed up the process of drug discovery were exciting highlights.
  • Growing stem cells for Parkinson’s disease using AI algorithms to analyse vast amounts of data to determine the optimal conditions for stem cell culture, such as temperature, humidity, nutrient supply and growth factors, was one of the more innovative applications.
  • However in the short-term, the real promise for AI in healthcare is in more ordinary areas such as predicting and managing patient flows and remote monitoring. Here the potential could be transformative.
Forging robust partnerships between startups and pharmaceutical giants is crucial
  • Pharmaceutical companies are forming partnerships for several strategic reasons, each aimed at enhancing their capabilities, expanding their market reach and accelerating innovation.
  • Startups are drawn to these partnerships because large pharma companies have the resources, experience and infrastructure to successfully complete projects.
  • However, establishing these partnerships is not straightforward. There is no clear path or standard process for approaching and securing partnerships, which makes it difficult for startups to navigate.
Landing a compelling health tech story requires a specific criteria
  • The narrative of health tech innovation must focus on tangible human stories with real world impact.
  • For example, the first robotic penguins at Milton Keynes University Hospital, represents the heartwarming intersection of technology and patient care. Easing the burden on overworked staff and freeing up hospital beds sooner.
  • Media fatigue of innovations that are ‘five years away’ is setting in and there is impatience to see impact and delivery sooner.
  • Ultimately, good progress makes good news. Equally, fast failures can be just as enticing to media. Navigating the path to editorial success is not always straight forward and the bar for success moves a little higher ever year.

While the outlook for the biotech and medtech sector is promising, bureaucratic challenges for adoption still remain. However, the potential for AI in healthcare is could be transfomative, offering enhancements in drug discovery and improvements in patient care through data analysis and robotic assistance. How soon we can realise the human health potential for tech innovations remains to be seen, but the future is looking bright.

To watch the full webinar, you can simply register here.

Alternatively if you would like to talk to one of our health tech comms experts, please contact [email protected].