NHS-funded West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network to deliver a Digital Health incubator in Innovation Birmingham’s £8m iCentrum® building

A 2,500 sq ft Digital Health incubator will be featured within Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip® Smart City Incubator in the new £8m iCentrum® building. The NHS-funded West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) has signed up as the partner to deliver the new challenge-led facility, enabling tech start-ups to access the region’s network of NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The WMAHSN is one of 15 Academic Health Science Networks across England first proposed by the Chief Executive of NHS England and launched by Prime Minister David Cameron. Their purpose is to improve patient outcomes and generate economic benefits for the UK by promoting and encouraging the adoption of innovation in healthcare. The Digital Health incubator will launch when iCentrum®, located off the A38M Aston Expressway, opens in March 2016 and will be instrumental in enabling the West Midlands to have the first digitally-enabled health economy in England.

The ground-breaking incubation centre will seek to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses with a tech product or service offering that addresses innovative solutions to those with long term conditions, promotes wellness and the prevention of illness, provides advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine, or helps with the management of mental health.

Tony Davis, Commercial Director of the WMAHSN, said: “In the short time since our launch, we have generated £15m of savings for the region’s NHS by introducing new innovations. We have identified digital health as our major enabler, which is why we are partnering with Innovation Birmingham to deliver a brand-new incubator for early stage tech companies.

“We want to work with brilliant, creative tech start-ups to pioneer solutions for patients to be able to access their own patient data and records. If a consultant delivers upsetting news, accessing the assessment and diagnosis online to share with family would be hugely beneficial to many. Filtering treatment levels for various ailments, and helping patients to self-manage long term conditions are other areas where there is significant scope for fresh innovation.

“The England-wide Health Sciences Networks have been established to open doors to the right people in the NHS and wider healthcare market. The early stage tech companies that we work with in the Serendip Digital Health incubator will be given access to all the innovation challenges that healthcare practitioners and managers identify.”

Innovation Birmingham’s business mentors will actively work in the Digital Health incubator. There will also be mentoring from industry experts, access to big data and exclusive insight into innovation challenges facing the healthcare industry. Representatives from the WMAHSN will have a base within the incubator, in order to open doors to the local and national healthcare marketplace.

The WMAHSN will deliver the Digital Health incubator for an initial three-year term. The application process for early stage tech businesses will be launched in early 2016.

The Digital Health incubator will be located on the first floor of the 3,881sqm (42,149 sq ft) iCentrum® building. The other three sector-specific quarters are Finance, Internet of Things – which will be delivered by RWE npower – and Intelligent Mobility, which will be jointly delivered by Centro and the Transport Systems Catapult. Innovation Birmingham will announce the remaining partner in the coming weeks.

The whole 10,000 sq ft first floor of iCentrum® will be known as Serendip®, with the ethos behind the space being to harness the power of serendipity and encourage the development of ideas – relevant to the Smart City agenda – by promoting interaction between the four quarters. To complement Serendip®, there will be state-of-the-art event and meet-up space on the ground floor for up to 500 people. The top floor of iCentrum® will house office suites for growing tech companies.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “Construction work started on iCentrum® in January 2015 and is on schedule to complete on time and on budget in March 2016. It is being developed and funded speculatively as a Smart City digital incubator for the generation of entrepreneurs growing up with social media, 3D printing and cloud-based business solutions.

“Sitting at the heart of the new building will be Serendip®; a 10,000 sq ft incubation centre purpose-designed to nurture relationships between corporate executives and entrepreneurs. Having the WMAHSN on board to deliver a Digital Health incubator is very exciting for the region. The opportunities that early stage companies seeking to innovate in the healthcare sector will be able to access by being based in this new facility will be invaluable.”

iCentrum® is being funded through a £7.5m commercial loan, agreed with Birmingham City Council, to cover the main construction and fit-out costs. In addition, Innovation Birmingham secured funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Enterprise Zone’s Site Development and Access Fund to create additional co-working space in the new building. iCentrum® will provide space for 400 high-value skilled tech jobs at any one time, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building was one of the first to start on site within the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 30 sites within central Birmingham.

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is currently fully let, with an extensive waiting list for space from new and growing tech businesses. Significant investment has ensured its 135 technology tenants can already access 30Gbit/s broadband speeds – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK. iCentrum is the first building under construction within Innovation Birmingham’s £40m development zone.

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