The 2018 Manx Biomed Conference Round Up

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On Thursday 6th December, the Manx Biomed Cluster hosted their 6th annual Conference at the Villa Marina, Isle of Man. The cluster is supported by Business Isle of Man as well as a number of private sector sponsors. With nearly two hundred delegates and speakers from both on and off the Island, the venue was packed full with an audience ready to hear from an interesting array of speakers.

It was fantastic to see a number of A-Level and International Baccalaureate science students from local schools (St Ninians, QE2, King Williams College, Ballakermeen, Ramsey Grammar and Castle Rushen) in the audience. The conference enabled students to learn more about the potential career opportunities in the Biomed, Health and Life Sciences sector, whilst also providing an insight into the contribution made by the Manx Biomed Cluster to the Island’s economy.

Due to the growth of companies within the cluster, there is a progressive requirement for new personnel with appropriate science-based experience. The agency outlined immediate plans to support the development of training to provide the necessary skills required to fill current gaps as well as preparing for future growth.

We received a warm welcome from the Minister for Enterprise (DfE), Lawrence Skelly MHK, who presented on the conference theme of collaboration for innovation and the Department’s efforts to support this alongside the programme for Government. Linking to this theme, we heard from Dr Rebecca Rowley, Head of Research and Development (R&D) at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who explained how the Island’s unique features enable her to work in collaboration with DfE and the Manx Biomed Cluster.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring presentations during the day for both young students and entrepreneurs alike was made by Cliff Kirby, an entrepreneur and investor. He gave an overview of his successful businesses and patented invention NeedleSmart, highlighting some of the hard lessons learnt along the way, including how to best approach and attract investors. His foundations for success have been built on satisfying a real need for the safe disposal of needles whilst also delivering value into the NHS supply chain. Plans are to expand further and develop partnerships in China and America too.

Other guest speakers we heard from included Dave Andrews with his business SteriFibre and an innovative proposal to replace the traditional pasteurisation process with UV sterilisation, saving both energy and money. Also Guy Wolstencroft presented development of his innovative audiology business, HearScreener, which provides a free interactive hearing test for patients to try when visiting their Optician.

As a precursor to the forthcoming public consultation on the potential introduction of regulation for hemp and medicinal cannabis on the Island we had an open debate which followed two presentations by Israeli company iCAN & partners TheraCann. They highlighted the current international regulatory framework & market developments within North & South America, Australia & Europe. The afternoon concluded with fascinating presentations on new opportunities and developments within our existing Biomed Cluster businesses that have progressed over the last 12 months, including presentations from Salix Pharmaceuticals, Hospice’s Dr Sholl Foundation and Taxa Genomics.

The DfE recognises the growth and potential in Biomed which is why Business Isle of Man will be working in partnership with the sector to support their development and provide strategic marketing strategies for successful promotion. The Manx Biomed Cluster and Business Isle of Man will continue to identify niche areas to develop, drive forward major decisions, and find ways to harness and nurture the skills and talent that already exists on the island. This will not only benefit our Manx Biomed Cluster, but will help establish our international reputation and success more generally.


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