£1.25bn pot to help Scots healthtechs tackling Covid-19

Scottish healthtech start-ups such as Care Sourcer helping to respond to the coronavirus crisis will be protected by a £1.25 billion UK Government support package so they can keep developing innovative products that could “transform” global healthcare.

Care Sourcer is working with local councils and families to manage older people leaving hospital and care homes. Picture: contributed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, together with the government’s Digital Economy Council, said Scottish healthtech companies have joined others across the country in working side by side with larger firms to help provide new services and technology during the pandemic.

They flagged Edinburgh-based Care Sourcer, which is working with local councils and families to manage older people leaving hospital and care homes due to the virus. The firm offers a comparison and matching site for elderly care.

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Glasgow’s Citruslabs – formerly MindMate – is using its database to match suitable volunteer patients with scientists wanting to test potential Covid-19 treatments, it was also noted, while Alva-based Omega Diagnostics has signed an agreement with Mologic to manufacture antibody tests capable of indicating whether people have had the virus or are immune to it.

From left: Andrew McGinley and Andrew Parfery of Care Sourcer. Picture by Stewart Attwood.

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The government, citing data from Tech Nation’s Data Commons, said the UK healthtech sector has been able to step up because it is one of the strongest in the world, having attracted $7.7bn (£6.2bn) from global venture capital investors over the last five years. Healthtech is now the second-largest sub-set of the UK tech sector after fintech and there are 100-plus healthtech firms on track to become $1bn businesses, the government added.

The number of companies in the sector has increased by more than 25 per cent since 2015. They have a combined turnover of £24bn and employ more than 127,400 people across 3,860 businesses.

The rapid switch to digital communication and tools across the sector, in the face of the crisis, is likely to have a profound impact on how quickly digital healthcare becomes part of the healthcare system in the next few years, it was also stressed.

Innovation

Digital minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Over the last month, the UK’s healthtech sector has shown why it is a global leader, quickly using its expertise to develop practical solutions to help the government and the NHS with innovative products and services to respond to those in need.

These new technologies will not only help in the here and now but they will also shape the future of healthcare in the UK and indeed across the world. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the startups and tech companies that have switched their entire focus to backing the national effort to tackle this health crisis.”

Medical testing company Omega Diagnostics revealed earlier this month that it had signed an agreement with Mologic to provide manufacturing capability for a Covid-19 antibody test, saying it will produce up to 46,000 of the kits a day.

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