Creating health and wealth by providing opportunities for UK businesses to innovate

By Zahid Latif, Head of Healthcare, Innovate UK

  • Health services are challenged by an ageing demographic with long term conditions.
  • The UK must improve efficiency and affordability.
  • Innovate UK is catalysing the partnerships of healthcare, governments, patients and the industry.

Health services are facing unprecedented challenges because of an ageing demographic with an increased burden of long term conditions. Advances have significantly increased life expectancy as fewer people die from acute conditions but this has shifted the focus on to managing more chronic conditions. It is predicted that by 2018, more than 50 per cent more people will have three or more long-term conditions in England compared with 2008. And more than 80 per cent more people aged 65 and over will be coping with dementia (moderate or severe cognitive impairment) in England and Wales by 2030 compared with 2010. The creation of new healthcare and business models is therefore an imperative.

This change will be driven by the need to improve efficiency and effectiveness, but also affordability of solutions. Better diagnosis will enable treatment and care tailored to patient needs, and better measurement of patient outcomes. Healthcare will also need to embrace preventive care, firstly to tackle the increasing prevalence of conditions like obesity which is driving up associated cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related complications, and secondly, to provide new technologies and models of care which will enable people to live independently well into old age.

This provides a huge opportunity for innovative UK firms. The UK has one of the strongest and most productive life sciences industries in the world, generating turnover of £52 billion - around 6 per cent of global sales. A successful, competitive UK life sciences sector can improve the lives of UK patients, efficiency in the NHS, and benefit the UK economy contributing to long-term sustainable growth and productivity.

However, healthcare and social care providers, governments, patients and industry will all need to work together to make that happen, to co-create the future. That’s where Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation experts have a leading role in helping build those partnerships.

Innovate UK’s Health and Care Programme is specifically targeted at addressing the government’s priorities of creating health and wealth by providing opportunities for UK businesses to innovate; whether that is by enabling the creation of new technologies or by using new products and services to create step changes in how illness is managed and how care is delivered and paid for. The £80m Health and Care Programme is supporting businesses right across the UK that are developing solutions in everything from assisted living to personalised medicine.

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