Navigate the UK's healthcare ecosystem and bring innovation to the NHS | Raj Purewal

Raj Purewal

Working together to find new ways to deliver innovative care in the NHS is imperative, and international healthcare innovators could offer real opportunities to provide innovative solutions or technologies. The issue for most of these innovators though, reports Raj Purewal, business development and partnerships director at TRUSTECH is that they do not know where to begin to access the market.


Entering the UK health and social care sector from overseas is extremely complex – the system can be confusing to those not so familiar with its structure and it is a highly regulated sector, so innovations must have strong business cases written specifically to include value propositions for the UK health service.

All steps to encourage and attract innovation for the NHS are beneficial, and one of our most recent projects is a good example: we provided an insight into the British healthcare system for international start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing a route to bring new ideas into the life sciences and health and social care sector.

TRUSTECH ran a Nordic health technology assessment workshop, a programme of activity developed and delivered for the project HealthTech Nordic, led by Swedish innovation company Innovation Skåne, together with partners across Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Innovation Skåne, based in southern Sweden, is an organisation similar to TRUSTECH; we both advance ideas and unite resources to address health and social care needs.

Designed to help develop life sciences business for the UK market, the programme attracted health tech start-ups and SMEs from countries across the Nordic region including Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which represent a fast-growing community of high potential start-ups, offering a variety of empowering health tech solutions that want to expand into new markets. 

As the NHS innovation experts, we developed and hosted the two-day programme designed to provide market advantage to these Nordic start-ups and SMEs that aspire to enter the UK healthcare market. It attracted a large number of unique, innovative health tech companies with solutions ranging from robotics, digital apps and software solutions. The start-ups that have the potential to attract major international attention with their innovative solutions to health and social care challenges.

Advantaging start-ups and SMEs

Our programme of seminars and workshops enabled delegates to gain access to networks, strategic knowledge and market opportunities. It provided invaluable insight and understanding of the overall UK health and social care market, NHS procurement and commissioning as well as informing them how to build an appropriate business case.

The workshops highlighted the differences in care systems. A further spotlight on national, local and specialised commissioning, such as the NHS supply chain, frameworks, tariffs and innovation payments, provided a much needed view into how the NHS procures and commissions innovations, to make sure that when the time comes, they are accessing the appropriate decision makers by ‘knocking on the right doors’.

Our next focus helped SMEs to understand how to build an appropriate business case. A strong value proposition is key to engaging NHS buyers and we encouraged the Nordic SMEs to think about whether their innovations address the problems that stand in the way of effective and efficient care delivery. We hope that by taking this approach the SMEs will be equipped with an understanding of how to address the NHS decision makers’ most frequently used ‘So what?’ questions.

The programme learning was consolidated for the final workshop where innovators were tasked with developing a coherent and persuasive pitch for commissioners. Here we provided personalised coaching and feedback, explored the elements of a successful pitch, and how to construct a concise and engaging story.

The companies that attended the event departed with the ability to define their individual roadmaps into the NHS market. We had a very wide and interesting mixture of innovations, which at some point we hope to see enter the health and social care market; from a medicines adherence app which rewards patients for taking their medication as prescribed and then converts the rewards into donations for local health charities; a medication-free depression treatment device; a digital sleep improvement treatment programme; an AI-based automatic classification of dental x-rays; and a software solution for psychometric tests, plus many others.

Attracting UK and international interest

Following the success of this inaugural programme, we aim to host similar events to attract UK and international organisations. 

Health tech innovation is booming, the future is promising. Breaking down the barriers for start-ups and SMEs, not just for those based in the UK, but internationally, will encourage contributions worldwide for better, future healthcare.

Raj Purewal is business development and partnerships director at TRUSTECH. Follow them on Twitter @TRUSTECH_HI

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