UHY Hacker Young | Chartered Accountants

UK Medtech: a healthy horizon for ‘patient’ investors

9 July 2019

Major advances across the healthcare spectrum over the last decade have come at pace with faster and improved diagnosis, better treatment, enhanced life expectancy and improved quality of life for certain chronic conditions.

Medtech provides key growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors with the continued development of technology-enabled products, it is an exciting sector, with science fiction blurring into science fact.

The UK Medtech industry is reportedly worth around £21bn with digital health around £3bn. The number of UK Medtech companies are estimated at around 4000 with the majority being small to medium sized enterprises. As with many sectors, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will radically transform areas of the health industry, through increased data management and automation of repetitive tasks.

However, AI is much more than automation. Automation is where hardware and software can be programmed to save time and be efficient, whereas AI is software and hardware working in harmony to learn outside of its programming “machine learning” that can provide analysis of data much faster, and apply learning to enable better use of data for more informed clinical decision-making.

The healthcare sector is rich in data, whether from hospitals, laboratories or research institutions. But, understanding, and effectively utilising big-data is the key to better patient outcomes, which is where AI really comes-to-the-fore.

For example, there is progress being made by applying machine learning techniques to the biotech space to try and predict drug efficacy, early diagnosis and identification of disease.

AI is being used in medical imaging by improving the accuracy of diagnoses with automated tools for diagnosing, by saving thousands of hours on image analysis while learning trends in order to identify disease states within a patient population.

Robots enabled with artificial intelligence are assisting in surgical procedures to reduce surgical variations, by machine learning and analytics that provide data in real-time that the surgeon can take into account during a surgical procedure.

Then there is personalised medicine, although in its infancy, will help to shape more effective treatments for patients from earlier diagnosis through to treatment from applying algorithms to patient’s medical records and genetic profile, creating personalised treatment plans.

It is clear the AI will play an ever more important part across a broad field of Medtech from biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health IT, medical devices and equipment.

As with many sectors innovation is key to sustaining a “healthy” Medtech sector and is similar to Fintech in that it is a favoured UK industry, whereby funding is perhaps more readily available, with investors seeking to generate healthy returns.

However, raising funding in any sector is challenging.

There is the conundrum of obtaining sufficient funding to overcome the initial hump of ‘Proof of Concept’ and delivering a set of rigorous results in support of reaching base camp, with further funding to start the steep climb of commercialising products, followed by additional funding required to scale-up and navigate to the peak to create and capture market demand and be able to lookout on a bright new horizon.

This all has to be achieved whilst building customers and revenue, and continuing to manage improvements and enhancements to your product in what is a highly regulated market. This can take time, and the term ‘patient’ capital is aptly named, but eventually to summit can be holistically rewarding.

The UK has a significant presence in the global Medtech market, but the challenge is to remain a leading player and to make an ecosystems with hubs of excellence through providing the right environment that is supportive of industry, universities, new ventures and investment that ultimately can scale summits in order to have a real impact globally. Science fiction fan or not, It is an exciting sector to be part of.

Get in touch

If your company is innovating in Medtech, contact UHY for advice on R&D tax credits, funding and general business advisory. We can support you whether your business is large or small, at the beginning of its lifecycle or considering strategic options, M&A or IPO; we have the technology professionals that understand a changing and challenging environment.

Please contact one of the following if you would like to know more:

Rob Starr –Tech Sector Lead Advisory Corporate Finance
Andrew Snowdon – R&D Tax
Rob Collings – Tech & High Growth Manager

Alternatively, find out more about our tech sector expertise here.