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Establishing an international network of health technology clusters (GrowHealth)

GROW Health

Mapping health technology clusters

The regions of South East England and Emilia Romagna in Italy are home to vibrant clusters of innovation and in the health technology industry. However, they have had too little data about these clusters to inform public sector development strategies in the area. This lack of information also has made it hard for businesses and universities working on health technology to form partnerships and develop supply chains between the regions. The GROW Health project was created to fill this gap, developing databases and cluster maps of the two regions’ health technology sites.

The project is part of the Business Growth pillar of the GROW programme, working on mechanisms to support the development and internationalisation of clusters. Cluster maps provide a basis for understanding a region’s store of expertise, business, competitiveness and innovation potential.

GROW Health is led by SEHTA (South East Health Technologies Alliance) in the UK, with three partners in the UK and Italy. Its aim is to develop cluster maps for the two regions and to open the way for companies and universities to forge links and create business opportunities. It brings together existing databases and reports and updates them, filling in gaps to produce regional and European cluster maps. Partners also work with industry and academics to identify emerging health technologies and highlight future possible clusters of international significance.

The single most important output of the project is the new cluster maps. In the UK the maps will inform the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) regional policy on support for the sector, including potential investment.

Apart from the maps, the project has spurred a wealth of contacts between UK and Italian partners. Links between UK companies and Italian firms and universities in Bologna, fostered by a partnering conference organised by Emilia Romagna, should lead to increased competitiveness and innovation.

Five UK companies gave presentations at the conference. Lead partner SEHTA has created a new business unit and developed a new Business Intelligence Team (BIT), both as a result of its links with the University of Surrey. The team recently secured a commercial contract with Pfizer.

“We are proud of the quality of the cluster maps being produced and pleased with the interest that has been expressed in them. The project has been a great boost for transregional cooperation,” said David Parry of SEHTA.

The partnership will look for ways to maintain contacts after the end of the project. The SEHTA team will try to find resources to create cluster maps annually for the regions and the SEHTA BIT team will look to develop new business through contacts made during the project.

“Cluster maps provide a basis for understanding a region’s store of expertise, business, competitiveness and innovation potential.”

David Parry

South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA)

Suite H2, Leatherhead Enterprise Centre
Randalls Road
Leatherhead, KT22 7RY, UK

Tel:+44 (0)845 130 8179