Photo of Andrew Clews (above)
The second phase of Callaghan Innovation’s HealthTech Activator rollout offers early to mid-stage health tech companies easier access to a huge depth of resources, skills and expertise.
Created and run in partnership with MedTechCoRE and CMDT, the HealthTech Activator is set to be a key tool for innovators and businesses in the healthtech sector in helping navigate some of the challenges that are unique to the sector, such as navigating clinical trials, and regulatory requirements both here and overseas.
The HealthTech Activator website now includes a great depth of useful information, from access to global data sets to assist with market validation, and detailed advice on funding, to market access guides, capital-raising tips, and regulatory guidance.
The HealthTech Activator is also running regular workshops in key areas of expertise such as market validation, and capital planning to help ensure business founders not only have the technical knowledge and skills, but the necessary commercial and operational skills as well. Any healthtech businesses interested in the workshops can subscribe for updates via the website.
Healthtech firms rank among NZ’s most globally successful businesses and the sector shows impressive growth potential: in 2019, healthtech firms accounted for 11% of the country’s top 200 technology businesses, and demonstrated a five-year compound annual growth rate of 9.1%.
However, healthtech companies also face some complex and unique challenges on the path to market. These include long commercialisation pathways, stringent regulatory requirements and higher capital needs.
“We’ve consulted across the whole ecosystem to identify some of the common gaps, particularly for entrepreneur-led startups in health technology,” says Andrew Clews, Callaghan Innovation’s Head of Health Technology.
“That has helped us to really understand the specific challenges and pain points experienced by innovators, and where we can best support the ecosystem in speeding up and smoothing out the trajectory of early- to mid-stage healthtech companies.”
Clews says healthtech has been identified as the largest of NZ’s specialist technology industry sectors, delivering high-paying jobs and offering significant export opportunities.
“We also have a tremendous healthtech legacy in NZ – from the invention of the disposable syringe, to the establishment of Glaxo, which became GSK, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare – so there’s a tradition of NZ punching well above its weight in this sector.”
Healthtech encompasses areas as diverse as digital health, medical device technologies, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals. However each area, says Clews, has its own complexities, making it particularly difficult for healthtech companies to navigate their path to market.
As an example, Clews points to the issue of reimbursement: how healthtech companies are paid for their products or services. NZ has a relatively straightforward ‘single-payer’ healthcare market, where companies generally receive payment from a single source. Many other countries, however, have more complex systems involving reimbursement from multiple entities, such as insurance companies and public and private healthcare providers, This can affect how a firm positions its product or service and its overall market-entry strategy.
Adding to the sector’s complexity is that healthtech innovation can spring from many sources:from researchers and health professionals who could have little commercial experience, to entrepreneurs with a great idea but who may have limited healthcare background, through to companies that already have some experience in the sector.
Clews says by supporting innovators at crucial stages in their journey, the HealthTech Activator will strengthen the entire sector in New Zealand. Another of the HealthTech Activator’s functions, for example, will be to gather and organise data and sector intelligence via the Scale-Up NZ platform.
“We think the HealthTech Activator is going to help build more capability across the entrepreneurial sector in healthtech and demystify some of the complexity,” says Clews.
“There is a huge amount of potential and through this initiative our goal is to help ‘rise the tide’ in the ecosystem so it can build upon itself.”
Learn more about the HealthTech Activator.
Written by Callaghan Innovation