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MedTech opportunities in the UK for Indian start-ups

The UK has a well-developed MedTech ecosystem comprising of businesses, large and small, and a range of specialists and National Health Service (NHS) clinicians.

The UK is a key manufacturer and exporter of medical technology products, with a thriving R&D infrastructure supported by a variety of organisations and funding from government, non-government, and industry. Indian and international businesses can leverage this infrastructure and funding to develop innovative medical technology products for validation through the NHS to sell in the UK and international markets and raise capital from private and public sources.

As an industry, the UK MedTech sector, referred to as the Core Med Tech sector by the UK government’s annual life sciences stats, contains 2,900 businesses, employing 106,500 people with a turnover of £22.0bn in 2020. The revenue breakdown shows the largest segment by turnover is Single use technology (£2.0bn) followed by Digital Health (£1.9bn), In vitro diagnostics (£1.9bn), Orthopaedic Devices (£1.8bn), and Assistive Technology (£1.6bn). These top five segments account for 42% (£9.2bn) of the Core Med Tech turnover.

The UK has developed one of the best ecosystems for funding in health technology research, including medical technologies as illustrated here. This funding landscape consists of medical research charities, Research councils set up under the purview of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Innovate UK for business R&D funding, National Institute of Health Research in the earlier stages of the R&D. Further along the commercialisation journey, funding from Angel and VC Investors is available to perform clinical studies, get regulatory approval and take the products to market.

According to the 2020 Annual report on the UK Life Sciences sector, spending on health research and development by Government was £2.3bn ($3.3bn). Non-industry players such as medical research charities, Medical Research Council and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) collectively spent £2.5bn ($3.5bn) in 2018 for research and development. Pharmaceutical sector spent £3.5bn ($4.5bn) in 2018. The amount of R&D spend is second only to the USA when compared with other developed and emerging nations.

To augment this resource base, the UK government and industry have created multiple organisations to support the innovators across the commercialisation journey. A complete list of these support organisations is available here.

Venture funding activity, from public and private sources, hit an all-time high of £4.5bn in 2021, £1.7 billion (60%) more than in 2020, as per the UK Biotech Financing in 2021 Report, published by the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Clarivate. Of this total, Venture capital financings totalled £2.5bn, an increase of 81% from 2020, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) totalled £1.3bn, an increase of 434% from 2020 and other public financings raised £684 million. The report states that, 2021 marks out the number and scale of IPOs as distinctly different from what went before, with listings of UK companies in the UK and USA markets suggesting an ecosystem reaching maturity.

In this dynamic and thriving ecosystem, notable companies that attracted investments include Oxford Nanopore whose £195 million fundraise prior to their £350 million London IPO was the largest amount raised in a biotech company’s listing on the London Stock Exchange and Vaccitech, the Oxford University spin-out setting out to commercialise the technology platform behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, also raised a large series B round of £118 million prior to its IPO on NASDAQ.

Indian Pharma and Life sciences companies have viewed the UK life sciences as a rich source of innovation and have invested into and/or bought UK companies outright. India's prominent Pharma company, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, made its first ever overseas acquisition when it bought two small British generics companies, BMS Laboratories and its subsidiary Meridian Healthcare in 2003. More recently, the UK India research collaboration has extended into the anti-microbial resistance (AMR) space with five projects starting in September 2020, to tackle AMR that could lead to important advances in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes.

The UK-India Tech Start-up Accelerator, currently run by the Triple Chasm Company, is another aspect of collaboration between UK and India to support commercialisation of novel technologies developed in India. The current cohort comprises exciting medical technology startups such as Biomoneta Research, that is creating proven solutions for germ-free air through air decontamination and Pacify Medical, advancing the standard of care for burn patients with a technology platform that sprays skin tissue on wounds for fast recovery.

To learn more about the accelerator programme and its methodology, please visit the UK India Tech Start-up Accelerator and The Triple Chasm Company websites.

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