Health Foundry aims to improve health and wellbeing by bringing together a wide range of people, start-ups and organisations and supporting them to create scalable digital health solutions.
Located at Canterbury House, opposite St Thomas’ Hospital in Waterloo, the Health Foundry is powered by
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and provides a supportive environment for digital health start-ups including a collaborative workspace designed by Architecture 00, a growing community of peers within the health and digital tech sectors, as well as access to a team who will facilitate connections with people both in- and outside the NHS.
SD – Hi, could you please introduce yourself?
SM – Of course! I’m Sinead Mac Manus, Start-up Manager of Health Foundry.
SD – Where are you based?
SM – Health Foundry is located at Canterbury House, literally opposite the entrance to St Thomas’ Hospital in Waterloo. The ambulance teams hang out on our street so we joke in the team that we are in the safest workplace in London!
SD – What is your background?
SM – Before Health Foundry I co-founded and ran my own start-up Fluency which was a learning platform teaching digital skills to young people and connecting them to jobs. We started at Bethnal Green Ventures tech for good incubator in July 2013 and were fairly successful in raising money and getting press attention and awards but struggled to find a sustainable business model that would scale so we sold the platform to another company this year. This experience was perfect grounding for my role helping start-ups at Health Foundry – I’ve been through the same highs and lows that they are going experiencing and can support them through this journey. Before Fluency I ran a social enterprise called Digital Academy which trained low income women to be digital outsourcers. And before that I was 10 year in the creative industries. Along the way I have built a pretty big network of people crossing digital, tech and social enterprise that I can introduce members to.
SD – What is the background to the Health Foundry?
SM – Health Foundry is a pilot project conceived by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. The Charity invest nearly £7 million a year in innovative ideas that improve health and wellbeing. Over the past few years an increasing number of these projects have been in digital health and the Charity wanted to invest in a space that can help support and scale these projects, as well as benefiting the wider digital health community. They found project partner Architecture 00 through seeing the work they had done building and managing workspaces under the Impact Hub brand and work began on the site of a disused children’s nursery in June this year. We opened our doors at the beginning of September with a month long festival of events that culminated in our launch Summit where we welcomed over 120 technologists, clinicians and healthcare professionals to an inspiring two days of provocations, keynotes and topical panels.
Health Foundry members working
SD – How do you help your members?
SM – In lots of ways! Firstly we have a beautifully designed space that members can come work from or host guests. We provide the usual things you would expect in an incubator space like business support and industry events. We also have great coffee!
But Health Foundry is more than just a supportive workspace. One of the biggest things that health tech companies need is the right introduction so we have build a network of support for our members including the IP and Commercial Team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital who can advise members on how to engage with the Trust, for example, get a trial set up; Will Nicolson our Community Connector who can introduce members to local community and patient groups; and Michael Wright, Head of Health Investment at the Charity who can pretty much help with anything!
Lastly what makes us quite unique is the diversity of our growing membership. We started Health Foundry as a space for anyone interested in how digital can solve our big health and wellbeing challenges. To steal a soundbite from Sir Tim Berner’s Lee, we think this “digital health stuff” is for everyone. It’s too important to leave to a bunch of techies with bright ideas for startups. At the Summit, we heard from clinicians and carers, nurses and neuroscientists, designers and data scientists, founders and futurists, incubators and accelerators. We think it will take multiple actors from all walks to life to reimagine healthcare and we will be using our Open Solutions Lab to bring members together to solve problems. One example of this is when we hosted the paediatric allergy team from the Trust for a week-long design sprint to see how they could redesign the service. Taking the team out of their regular environment and throwing in designers and technologists led to a working user-led prototype of the new children’s allergy service to trial with real users.
Workspace at Health Foundry
SD – What are the next steps for Health Foundry?
SM – Well it’s early days but at the moment we are focused on continuing to build our community of members and programming some exciting open and member-only events in the next couple of months. We will also be piloting two more projects in our Open Solutions Lab so watch this space.
SD – What do you see the digital health landscape being in 2020?
SM – I think the next few years are going to be really tough for NHS Trusts up and down the country. With the NHS funding gap forecast to reach £30 billion in 2020/21, the need for cost-effective healthcare is increasing but combined with rising demand, business as usual is just not an option. We think that digital is going to play an increasing part in help Trusts deliver savings while improving the patient experience. Forward thinking Trusts like Guy’s and St Thomas’ will be looking for evidence-based solutions that they can scale quickly so I think this will be a great time to be in health tech.
SD – How do people find our more information?
SD – thanks for your time