MTSC | 3 Jun 2019

Best Practice Sharing is Key to Effective Knowledge Exchange

By Greta Paa-Kerner, Head of Business Engagement, Buckinghamshire New University

The MedTech SuperConnector, an open experiment in helping Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) accelerate innovations in medical technologies, recently completed its second internal best practice review. The best practice sharing session was a chance for representatives from the eight HEIs including Imperial College, the Institute of Cancer Research, Buckinghamshire New University, Queen Mary University London, the Royal Veterinary College, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music and the Francis Crick Institute to review what impact the programme can make with medtech innovation. The aspects of the programme reviewed included programme design, programme delivery, internal administration as well as the strengths and pinch points that the participants and delivery partners have experienced to date.

Best practice review is important because the programme is, essentially, writing its own acceleration guidebook. Through learning not only what went well and why, but also what did not work, the MedTech SuperConnector aims to share key learnings publicly to help foster knowledge exchange for the greater health and medical good. Documentation is step one and wide dissemination is step two.

According to Tatiana Schofield, Head of Knowledge Research at the Royal College of Art: “We hold regular review sessions to capture and codify good practice as well as to reflect on lessons learned. The MTSC programme is an open experiment and we are keen to share knowledge with the entire community of researchers, managers, innovators and industry to accelerate medtech innovation and achieve a greater impact on people’s health and wellbeing”.

Funded by Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, the MedTech SuperConnector programme is a three-year experiment to define and document best practices in medtech acceleration.

Cohort One consisted of early stage researchers with medical technologies that developed and nurtured their ideas within one of the eight HEIs. The bespoke programme for Cohort One, our Venture Accelerator, began last summer and lasted eight months. The intention was to provide early career researchers with existing technology with business support, mentors and a network of peers to progress their technology and businesses to the next stage.

The MedTech SuperConnector programme team took an entirely different approach for Cohort Two. Rather than starting with existing technology within the eight HEIs, participants from these institutions were invited to a weekend hackathon to help progress medical technology innovations around the themes of mental health, well-being and happiness. By the end of the weekend newly formed teams, that cut across institutions, had developed a seed of a technology and business idea; and ten successful teams were invited to participate in a six-month acceleration programme.

In reviewing the two accelerator programmes key themes emerged around the effectiveness of the venture accelerator design, framing of the programme to encourage participants’ investment and the importance developing a community and peer feedback for participants. Suggested topics to include in future programmes included project and business management in the context of HEIs. Building on these we are excited to continue to experiment in accelerator programme design to further support early career researchers translate their medical technology and get it out in the world helping people.

Although the programme is still running Cohort Two, the programme team and delivery partners have begun to set their sights on Cohort Three and Cohort Four to start defining what it should look like. By reflecting on best practices and asking, “why not?” rather than “why?”, the MedTech SuperConnector aims to make an impact in progressing medtech innovation within their institutions. Yet, more importantly, sharing key insights through knowledge exchange, the programme hopes to create an innovation multiplier effect across the entire sector of medical technology.