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The UK’s health technology sector is one of the most successful in the world, and the South East of England leads the way. The South East has the highest concentration of health technology companies in the UK; it is home to 30% of the UK’s life sciences research and nine out of 10 of the world’s leading life sciences companies; and all 12 of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have operations in the South East.

The SEEDA region contains over 1,000 biotechnology, diagnostics, medical device and pharmaceutical companies employing over 50,000 people. Independent studies have suggested that the region contains the biggest cluster of health technology in the world outside the US.

The South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA) is building on this foundation by running projects which help small health technology companies to grow. These include providing networking opportunities, help with business planning, fund-finding and PR.


What do you do and why is it special?

Vivacta (formerly PanOpSys) is a Medical Diagnostic company. We are working in a high growth sector that is called “Point of Care”. As the name implies this is involved with moving testing out of the lab and closer to the patient. The value that near-patient testing brings is faster results, which allows GPs and Medics in hospitals to make faster and more informed decisions. There are additional benefits to the patient as they can have the result explained during the test procedure, and it only requires a finger prick rather than the tubes of blood required by the lab.

What makes Vivacta able to deliver this solution is technology it acquired from the Health Protection Agency that enables us to precisely detect the target blood borne markers using a small and simple reader used together with a disposable cartridge.

How have things been so far?

One of the key challenges was raising the finance to develop the technology into a functional product. We decided to seek Venture Capital funding and completed the £3 million investment in February this year.

Up until September 2005 we operated out of the premises of an associated company called ITL in Ashford. It was important to the investors and the employees that we became independent and after considering a number of science-based locations (including Oxford and Cambridge) we decided that the Kent Science Park provided all the infrastructure we required with the least disruption. Kent Science Park was keen to encourage biotech businesses on to site and came up with a purpose-designed facility together with temporary accommodation whilst it was being developed. Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub has provided us with access to information networks in the Health Technology sector, funding advice when we thought we might need some extra finance late in 2005 and a regular breakfast event to meet other like-minded companies working with the Hub.

What are your plans for the future?

We now have the funding in place, the facility and the initial staffing. This is really where it becomes exciting as the ball is very much in our court to demonstrate that we can deliver the diagnostic system envisaged.

The work to date continues to impress us and the question is no longer will it work or not, but rather how well can we make it perform. Our expectations on our systems performance are now that we will approach the precision and sensitivity of large laboratory machines. These large machines cost in excess of $100,000, whereas ours is a hand held device that costs less than $1,000 and delivers the result in a tenth of the time.

We are working on tests that will be carried out in the GP’s office, and we are also working on tests that will be carried out in A&E or in the field by paramedics. We intend to work with larger diagnostic organisations to take the technology to market, which leaves us focused on new product development.

How do people find out more about you?

We have a website at

email us at E: [email protected] or call us on T: 01795 419 400


What do you do and why is it special?

We have recently launched “Balanced Living”, an online health improvement platform for corporate employees. To date the market for healthcare has been largely 'reactive', centred on insurance, occupational health and employee assitance. Our service encourages staff to take an active interest in managing their wellbeing, providing individualised guidance and advice, supported by video demonstrations and weekly reviews.

How have things been so far?

Our early challenges involved fund raising and sourcing the right development partner. The business was originally funded by the founders, backed by early friends and family investment. However, our main fund raising has been done through Finance South East and SECA. Martin Brassell (Aylesbury Vale Enterprise Hub Director) was key to introducing us to these Angel networks and supported us at each presentation.

Due to high UK costs, our technology development was outsourced to India. Our Merlin Mentor (to whom we were introduced by our local Hub), helped assess the risk of outsourcing.

Our UK Project Management Team had previously worked with the Indian developer and provided a high degree of comfort in their abilities. Our key challenges here were in controlling the original creative output as well as their initial understanding of our technical specifications.

What are your plans for the future?

Having focused on developing the product, we now move to the operational stage of the business – establishing a strong network of channel partners and planning for an internal support team. We keep in regular contact with Martin Brassell fromAylesbury Vale Hub, and we expect he’ll continue to help us develop.

How do people find out more about you?


T: 01865 784 890


What do you do and why is it special?

Docobo develop and market eHealth technologies that enable home-based care. It is a new and exciting market as it is aligned with the Government’s initiative to look after people more locally in the community.

Our current product, branded doc@HOME®, enables healthcare professionals to manage people with a range of long-term conditions in their own homes. The company was formed in 2001 by Chartered Engineers Adrian Flowerday and Robert Smith.

How have things been so far?

The major challenge we have faced is investment. The healthcare sector is inherently long-term, especially when the product changes the way staff work. As such, UK investors have not been interested, but that is changing now that we have significant orders from the NHS. The Surrey Hub has helped us throughout with encouragement, contacts and support, and were pivotal in us being awarded a SMART award (now called an R2D grant). So a lot of our effort has been directed at applying for EU funds to help us get the clinical evaluations underway.

What are your plans for the future?

We have two UK distributors signed up, and we were recently included in the NHS eCatalogue. We are now looking to sign up distributors in several EU countries, and are in discussions regarding setting up a joint venture in North America. Our challenge is now to raise funds, mature the management and operations structure, and bring our new ideas to the market. Our vision is to become a key provider in the provision of community and personal healthcare enabling technologies, facilitating cradle to grave preventative healthcare services.

How do people find out more about you?

Call Adrian Flowerday on T: 01372 459 866, or email him at E: [email protected]


The South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA) is a catalyst for innovation and international competitiveness in South East England’s Health Technologies sector. SEHTA provides:

  • leadership and influence raising the profile of the sector;
  • facilitation bringing people together to produce innovative solutions;
  • signposting making it easier for businesses to find the help that already exists.

SEHTA’s aims are to:

  • engage with significant numbers of people in the supply chain;
  • catalyse innovation and collaboration;
  • address the shortage of medium sized companies;
  • make it easier for businesses to find information and support;
  • improve public and policy makers’ understanding of the sector;
  • help to tackle skills shortages.


If you are a company operating in the SEEDA region in the biotechnology, diagnostics, medical device or pharma business, SEHTA can help you – contact David Parry, Chief Executive, to find out how.

South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA)

26 Kings Hill Avenue

Kings Hill, West Malling

Kent ME19 4AE

T: 01732 878 026

M: 07899 811 400


Contact: Ally Charles


Published: 22nd August 2006

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