As the National Health Service approaches 70, much is being said about the power of innovation to transform patients’ lives. Next July, Wales as a nation will mark Aneurin Bevan’s legacy by looking ahead look to new techniques and technologies to sustain the NHS through the 21st century.
Recently, I attended another birthday celebration – the 25th anniversary of Cardiff Medicentre – which reminded me how much is already being done just 30 miles from Bevan’s home town of Tredegar to develop smart new services, devices and treatments for the benefit of all.
Established in 1992, Cardiff Medicentre – now co-owned by Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – has put medtech start-ups and spinouts on a path to success. Currently home to more than 30 companies, the MediCentre has nurtured some of Wales’ leaders in clinical innovation.
Notable tenants and alumni include Alesi Surgical, Q Chip and Synexus Clinical Research. Eleven companies have grown to the point of relocation or acquisition – and when combined, these acquisitions total over £30m.
The Medicentre’s success story shows us two important things. First, there’s no such thing as overnight innovation. Patience and understanding builds trust over time. Our own vehicle for recognising innovation excellence – the Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards – is itself 20 years old next year.
And second, strong long-term partnerships are magnets for expertise and investment. Our work with IQE, for instance, dates back 30 years but is only now spawning a whole new Compound Semiconductor ecosystem across the City Region and beyond.
Built on rock-solid partnerships that become friendships, Cardiff’s claim to be the Home of Innovation goes beyond shiny buildings and new technology. At its heart are our students and staff, transforming our work and changing our city. Their contribution is enormous and underpins everything we do.
The most poignant part of the Medicentre celebrations proves the point: a bouquet of flowers for Mair Davies, the Medicentre administrator, presented by Professor Keith Harding, long-time friend and Dean of Clinical Innovation.
Innovation is, after all, simply great people doing amazing work. So, Happy Birthday, Medicentre. Here’s to another 25 years of outstanding success.