Mission accomplished: supporting the future of our healthcare

The Iain Gray Column
This month saw the success of the Future Health Mission where 20 of the UK’s best health-tech companies set out on a transformational journey for their business.

September is always a busy month for me as we all come back after summer holidays and this year is no exception – with many competition activities and events such as, The Plymouth Business Expo and the Low Carbon Vehicle event at Millbrook. 

One initiative I was really pleased to support was our Future Health Mission launch, where, along with Lord Green and Earl Howe, I had the honour of announcing and congratulating 20 high growth potential health technology companies that had earned a hard-fought place on our Mission.

There have been seven missions to date, but the Future Health Mission is the sixth where the Technology Strategy Board has been a key partner in the programme. They were started by a collection of entrepreneurs who recognised the collective might of bringing together a group of high performing early stage businesses and designing an overseas ‘mission’ for them, where they would meet investors, supply chain partners and customers in a week-long agenda of meetings and networking opportunities.

The mission included conference sessions to highlight the capabilities and technologies of the UK companies

These missions go to a globally recognised centre of excellence, and at the moment represent three sectors – health technology, clean technology and Web. San Francisco (and its Silicon Valley) is without doubt a pilgrimage site for small businesses wanting to grow, in all these fields, so this is where the first six missions headed.

This Future Health Mission broke the ‘geographic’ mould slightly for us. Boston, with its academic and entrepreneurial ‘ecosystem’, was the obvious choice for these hand-picked health technology companies and from day one they met with investors and interested parties who could help them meet their individual growth objectives.

‘Boston, with its academic and entrepreneurial ‘ecosystem’, was the obvious choice for these hand-picked health technology companies

All aspiring mission companies have to apply for a place to take part in this popular programme. We ask them about their technology, their business objectives and what they want achieve. We had more than 120 entries from companies in the stratified and regenerative medicine, assisted living and diagnostic technology fields this time – and with only 20 places available, it’s always a difficult task deciding which companies should come out. Thankfully this is an ongoing programme and companies that couldn’t come this time can always apply again.

The missions have had some outstanding results over the years – I could talk about Endomagnetics, Intelligent Energy, ModCell, Cambridge Temperature Concepts and many more. All were early stage companies when they took part in a mission but they came back with the connections and insight that has since helped them achieve impressive growth.

You’ll have seen that The Engineer is a close supporter of missions. Former reporter Sam Shead came on our last Clean and Cool Mission and he also went to Boston with us. You can read his insights into one of the innovative companies attending the Future Health Mission here. We’re extremely thankful that The Engineer recognises the power of these trips and look forward to showing people just how important the Future Health Mission has been for all attending.

You can find out more about missions and all of the other support programmes we run by visiting our website.

Iain Gray is chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board