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Turbo-charging NHS market access for HealthTech innovators

Written by: Tim East - 17th August 2023

Our Propel@YH digital health accelerator has this year completed its fourth edition supporting another 11 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with innovations that have potential to improve health outcomes. In this blog, Tim East, Lead for Propel, International and Accelerators, explains how Propel@YH has developed as we enter its fifth year.  

Propel@YH provides HealthTech innovators with access to a structured course of support and advice to help them understand the NHS and ultimately bring the best digital health solutions to the region’s population and the wider health economy. The accelerator is delivered in collaboration with our partners, Nexus at the University of Leeds, Hill Dickinson, Barclays Eagle Labs, Leeds City Council and the Innovation Pop Up at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. These organisations work with us to help guide the innovators to meet the specific demands of the NHS. The programme includes a series of masterclasses, delivered by our partners and supporters on all aspects of building a successful and sustainable business, such as funding, research and UK legal subjects.  

Last year, 11 companies were selected and we saw a whole range of innovations from a clinical CRM platform which reduces health inequalities to a company specialising in AI-powered tools which help doctors to diagnose and fight cancer more efficiently. We hosted a company that uses virtual reality in care homes to help patients relive memories, create new ones and bring people together through shared experiences and an innovator with a care management app for families who need help coordinating care for loved ones with long-term health conditions. 

This past year, the programme provided 127 hours of support to 44 innovators and leveraged £59k of investment into the Leeds City ecosystem. Several SMEs have had much success since being on the programme, such as who recently secured £1m in investment from Finance Yorkshire and other investors. The company is headquartered in Leeds and plans to expand its operations in Yorkshire. 

Propel@YH Boot Camp 

Our Boot Camp for international innovators builds on the success of Propel@YH and has been developed with international HealthTech SMEs in mind. The five-day programme of intensive support and masterclass content, provided by our expert partners, gives innovators a crash course on the UK healthcare market, access to subject matter experts and the opportunity to engage directly with local NHS stakeholders as well as the wider HealthTech ecosystem in the Yorkshire and Humber region.  

Leeds is a perfect fit to host international companies wanting to enter the UK market with 109,000 businesses generating over £69b, the Leeds City Region is the largest contributor to the UK economy in the North and the largest regional economy outside London. Over 600 businesses in the region supply products and services to the health and care sector and 22% of the UK’s digital health jobs are based in the region.  

Following the inaugural US Boot Camp in 2022, we were delighted to see the impact of this as three companies established their UK bases in our region. Since then, we have delivered three more Boot Camps including eight innovators from the Nordic region and six from Ontario in Canada.  

As well as bringing innovators into the region, this year for the first time, we took Propel@YH overseas to India for a taster of the Boot Camp and to identify Indian innovator companies that were ready to come to the UK market. The application call covered the whole of India, and we received 148 innovator applications. The 25 innovators selected had a range of HealthTech products and services, some digital, some devices and a few AI solutions.  

I’m excited to say we have a healthy pipeline of future international Boot Camps and look forward to working with other international territories to import innovation into the UK. 

Find out more about the Propel@YH programme: