How Tech North is helping to drive healthcare innovation in Barnsley

How can designers and digital technology specialists work with healthcare professionals and patients to create pioneering solutions to real problems? Connected Healthcare is a series of events aiming to find out, and Tech North is pleased to be supporting it.

Here’s what’s been achieved so far.

The first of the four events, held at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, took place in January and brought together key players from the NHS, gateway organisations, digital innovators, and other interested parties. I spoke about the opportunities for digital tech in general, and specifically for tech as an enabler in the healthcare sector.

The second and third events in March and April were Digital Discover Days, run by Victoria Betton of Leeds-based mHabitat. These were essentially hackathons that brought together personnel from the NHS, from gateway organisations, patients, and creative digital innovators, to find digital tech solutions to pressing healthcare issues.

The fourth event, taking place in June, is an ‘Access to Finance’ event, with an emphasis on how to commercialise the innovations that came out of the hackathon. Tech North’s James Bedford will speak at this event.

Making key connections

Tech North played a key role in providing financial sponsorship and providing legitimacy to the project, which then encouraged other organisations to get involved. I acted as a connector and helped make this a regional project that spread across Yorkshire and Humber.

Introductions were made between Ceri and Rob Lewis at Reckitt Benkiser, a large ‘over-the-counter’ pharmaceutical company based in Hull that provided sponsorship for one of the prizes. Rob also acted as a judge for the hackathon.

I encouraged the DotForge accelerator to take part in the initial discussions for the design of the programme, and the hope is that the second version of Connected Healthcare will help to act as a pipeline of digital tech startups for the Health + Data DotForge accelerator programme in Leeds.

Qualitative reports from the Digital Media Centre’s Tracey Johnson and Connected Healthcare’s project manager Ceri Batchelder have been overwhelmingly positive. Both say that without Tech North’s sponsorship the project would have faced significant financial challenges. Perhaps more importantly, they say our involvement inspired other key actors to participate.

It’s also good to see that these events have attracted a wide, diverse range of participants. The usual demographic of tech hackathons is men between the ages of 20 and 30. Connected Health had people of all ages taking part, from all different backgrounds, plus a significant representation of women.

Read more: How Connected Healthcare is improving patient care with a digital design challenge


Originally published at technorthhq.com on May 9, 2016.