MedTech SuperConnector (MTSC) runs alternating eight and six-month accelerator programmes and after each cohort the team takes note of best practices and identifies what could be done more effectively in a continuous cycle of programme improvement. The first two cohorts were a steep learning curve for this newly formed consortium, but the hard work paid off as the outcomes were above target. In the interest of experimentation, the programme took different approaches with Cohorts One and Two.
There were factors working in favour and against Cohort One. The biggest challenge was that this was the first time the consortium of eight partners had worked together. On the flip side, the programme was able to select promising individuals and technologies from across the institutions; ones that already had traction and may have already established a successful track record. Although the 10 ventures that formed Cohort One may have started the programme with a good idea, participants developed a deeper understanding of key start-up methodologies and how to commercialise their intellectual property through the course of MTSC programme.
The results from Cohort One were impressive. By the end of the programme Cohort One had created six jobs, produced five start-ups, won £1,328,000 in translational research grants, £94,000 in VC funds, and submitted four patents. This cohort also saw the Royal College of Music produce it’s first spinout company in its 130-year history and has through subsequent cohorts continued this success.
An alternative approach
As MTSC is an open experiment in medtech acceleration, the programme took an entirely different approach with Cohort Two. Instead of selecting established ideas from existing labs and research, Cohort Two began with a weekend hackathon resulting in the formation of 11 new business ideas that cut across institutions. Not only were the ideas new, but the business partners were too. These newly formed businesses spent the next six-months testing and refining their ideas using the resources and expertise provided by MTSC programme.
The results from Cohort Two were different in nature than Cohort One as one would expect because the participants were at the start of their innovation journey when entering the programme having developed the idea during the weekend hackathon. In summary, one venture started a company and one applied for a translational research grant. Programme alumni Affect.AI, is due to start clinical trials and are semi-finalists for the Mayor of London The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition 2020, watch the case study to find out more. The cohort themselves rated the programme highly (7.4 out of 10), and it positively affected their attitude toward innovation and entrepreneurship.
Why has the programme been successful?
There are many components to the programme that have made it a success and it is the balance of these ingredients that have made exceeding the programme’s original Key Performance Indicators possible. Firstly, all consortium delivery partners are actively engaged in the programme and contribute to its success, although many still have a “day job” within their organisation. Another key success factor is MTSC’s flexible delivery style that has helped the programme pivot based on key learnings and unforeseen external forces. Additionally, leaning on past experiences and previous accelerators run across the consortia institutions MTSC was able to build on existing best practices to create programmes based on the learnings.
It should also be noted that supportive and dynamic leadership both from the programme team as well as from Imperial College London, the lead delivery partner, is another key ingredient to the programme’s success. Lastly, the funders itself (Research England) understand the experimental nature of the work and have not introduced unneeded bureaucracy. From cohort to cohort, these key success factors have meant that the programme can learn, pivot, and build.
By Greta Paa-Kerner
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