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Advice for start-ups: Resilience and partnerships are key

Pfizer interviewed Professor Marc Clement ahead of the 2017 Pfizer Healthcare Hub:London event where he was part of the judging panel to select three winning health start-ups.

How have you seen the health tech industry change over the past decade?

Having been part of both the business and academic worlds, I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in both therapeutic and diagnostic technology. Most evident has been the coming together of different disciplines, for example physical devices attached to patients which are then linked to the Internet of Things (IOT) to generate clinical and consumer-grade data.

With the proliferation of technology, the whole world now has the opportunity to innovate. In parallel to this, we have a health service in crisis and we simply can’t carry on in the same way. Innovation and technology have a role to play like never before.

A key component in developing a healthy population is the promotion of preventative care not only to cure illness but actually improve wellness across the population. Technology is and will continue to be a key part of this movement. It’s truly an exciting time for digital innovators.

How do academic institutions drive digital innovation in business?

It’s our job as academics to nurture young talent. But I’ve also observed the relationships between academics and business, particularly in the health space, change to become more open and collaborative.

Academic institutions have a real responsibility to demonstrate the impact of their work on the local economy where there’s a more weighted focus on the impact of our work.

What advice would you give to start-ups today?

There are three key elements to consider:

  1. Research: Really understand the market you’re selling to and the need you’re addressing. This will ensure that your proof of concept is crystal clear and your business application is spot on.
  2. Partnerships: Choosing your partner is one of the most critical decisions you’ll ever make. Anyone can come up with a clever idea, but what makes a strong team is the ability to keep coming up with ideas and innovating and adapting as necessary. You need people who are going to add value to what you’re doing, but also share your core values and purpose.
  3. Resilience: Business moves fast these days, particularly in technology. You need be prepared to adapt to the changes as and when they occur in order to be successful.

Why have you agreed to be a judge at the Pfizer start-up day?

The Pfizer Healthcare Hub: London programme is an enlightened approach by a global company to take its assets and put them to the service of small innovators. I’m optimistic that it will rapidly provide much-needed digital innovation to the UK market and lead to tangible improvements for both patients and providers.

Professor Marc Clement, Dean of School of Management at Swansea University

Marc Clement graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Physics from Swansea University and a PhD in Laser Physics from Swansea University with the research undertaken at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

An entrepreneur, he has founded several businesses and is the named inventor of many patents in the field of medical devices. He is also a board member for ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health).

In 2014 Marc was invited to become Vice President of Swansea University with the specific role of developing major strategic projects. In October 2015 Marc was appointed as Dean of the School of Management at Swansea University.

Marc has also held a number of public appointments serving on and chairing committees on behalf of Welsh Government and representing Wales on the UK Board of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

Date of publication: 
May, 2017
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Start-ups mPharma, Telesophia and Cortium share their experience of collaborating with Pfizer in Tel Aviv and Berlin.