How Can Innovation Solve Real Problems for the NHS?

An interview with Dr Mayur Vibhuti, Chief Clinical Information Officer NHS Kent & Medway Integrated Care Board (ICB), NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow, and Martin Carpenter, Chief Digital Transformation Officer NHS Kent & Medway ICB.


The NHS is considered by many to be one of the UK’s proudest achievements, but it is also under undeniable strain, with the current situation unsustainable for clinicians and patients alike. Opportunities lie in the integration of innovative solutions, both operational and clinical technologies, but this is often easier said than done.

At NHS Kent & Medway, Dr Mayur Vibhuti, Chief Clinical Information Officer, and Martin Carpenter, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, are working to find ways to integrate new technologies in a way that will transform the NHS to deliver for our current and future society. They recently hosted a reverse pitching event at Discovery Park to bring together key stakeholders and encourage cross-collaboration to generate meaningful solutions for real problems.


What was the idea behind the reverse pitching event and what were you aiming to achieve?

Mayur: Having been involved in setting up a primary care innovation hub in Medway before the Covid pandemic, we wanted to recreate something similar. Often solutions that are being developed by industry don’t match the immediate need. We want to bring together industry and academic partners with clinicians to develop solutions for current systemic problems that no one organisation could solve.

Martin: I’m pretty new to the NHS. I joined at the start of this year having worked in the private sector for most of my career. When I was on the panel at the Innovation Summit at Discovery Park, there was a question from the audience: ‘how does the NHS encourage innovation?’. In my experience, the answer is not very well! The NHS is not set up in a way that supports innovation as there are so many different organisations across the system. Start-ups don’t have the time or money to talk to multiple people within the system in order to find the right fit. The NHS therefore has to think differently around innovation.

The foundation of a good start-up is a good product market fit; if you don’t get that right you’ll fail at some point on your journey. The reverse pitch is designed to make sure the product market fit is right using real world NHS problems that need fixing, not just an academic exercise.

Mayur: The reverse pitching event stemmed from a desire to bring all the relevant people together around one subject matter using a problem-based methodology. When Martin met Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park, at their Innovation Summit earlier this year, it was clear that our ambitions aligned with those of the team and companies at Discovery Park and it all came together.

We took three wicked problems – how to diagnose cancer faster using existing systems; how to improve the logistics around long term care management; and how to improve preventative care – and put them in front of an audience of academia and industry. These may not seem like super complicated problems outside of the NHS, but within the organisation there isn’t the relevant expertise or the money to solve them. We knew we wouldn’t get solutions on the day, but we wanted to make connections and focus minds on the pressing issues for the NHS and how their solutions might align.


How was the event? What key themes emerged from the day?

Martin: As the first event we’ve organised for this purpose, we’re really pleased with the result. It was great to see over 50 people from a vast array of backgrounds including primary care, academia, industry and VCs all in the same room and create a buzz around the aims of our network.

One key theme that emerged was around workflow and making it easier for people in the NHS to do their jobs. Current systems require high levels of training to make sure jobs can be done rather than using technology to drive process adherence and standardisation. There is a clear opportunity here that is still to be realised.

Mayur: This was a bit of a soft launch to see what would happen, but we’re really pleased with how it turned out. We saw lots of networking which is a key goal for us – bringing together people with aligned purposes who should have met but hadn’t yet. Health care is complex and we’re unlikely to get linear solutions but by making the introductions and seeing opportunities to facilitate collaboration we’re aiming to demystify both sides.


What are your plans for future events?

Mayur: We’re not planning to have a strict rule as to what the innovation hub is, we want to be agile and go where the energy is. We’re aiming to provide a forum for people with a shared purpose but going about it in different ways. This will be the golden thread connecting all our activities coming up.

Martin: More of the same really! We want to get more people involved who are at the right stage for the NHS, with sufficient product development to have a viable solution, but not so far developed that it’s too late to tailor their offering to ensure that alignment.


What are the current hold ups for industry/NHS collaboration?

Martin: The NHS has a way of working which isn’t suitable to encourage a start-up ecosystem – and the challenge is for the NHS to adapt not the other way round. We need to change the way of working and thinking to encourage risk taking and agile thinking. This will need to create slick internal processes that allow quick decision making as without that start-ups will fail.

Mayur: The best analogy I’ve heard recently is that people think the NHS is a whale but it’s actually a shoal of fish – all moving in the same direction but thousands of different organisations with their own goals and processes. This doesn’t make it easy for start-ups to interact with. And change isn’t easy as people within the NHS are too busy delivering their own goals to take a broader overview of the situation. There are a cohort of people who want to make change, but it is too difficult and they are too time poor to do so. We need to introduce a space to make the process easier.


What are the benefits of regional networks to drive this collaboration?

Mayur: Regional networks will be key to aligning purpose and delivering a real impact. We need to build an innovation pathway that enables ideas or products to be tested at a local level to measure impact, then expanded more widely across the county, and the country once we’ve shown they work. We don’t have a postcode to national pathway, but if we got the postcode to county pathway right, we could then recreate this elsewhere.

Martin: These regional centres are important for a number of reasons. The primary goal of the Integrated Care Boards is to reduce healthcare inequalities, which are a major concern. For example, there is a difference in life expectancy for men of over four years between Thanet and Maidstone. It is well known that economic prosperity correlates with health outcomes, so if we can stimulate an innovation ecosystem in Kent & Medway, we will not only find solutions for major healthcare challenges but also build a more prosperous, skilled workforce, and generate healthier outcomes. Bringing innovation into the mainstream is therefore vital to reduce these inequalities and improve outcomes.

Discovery Park is an amazing resource within Kent & Medway with innovative companies and high-tech lab space on our doorstep, alongside several leading universities. We have a fantastic opportunity to create a centre of excellence in life science and economic prosperity here by working together.


What more can we do to build on this?

Mayur: As a community we need to make a concerted effort to step outside of our organisational position on certain things to enable innovation. We need to come together, try different things and support people with the time they need to think differently. Risk and governance can kill innovation in public services, but with more collaboration this doesn’t have to be the case.

Martin: We really welcome feedback on how to improve our approach so please get in contact if you have any ideas that could help to deliver better outcomes for patients and create economic vibrancy in Kent.


To get involved or learn more contact


Martin Carpenter

Martin is Chief Digital Transformation Officer for NHS Kent & Medway ICB, joining the NHS in January 2023. Martin’s experience covers Pharma, a Genomics startup, UK Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Optum, tele-radiology, Social Housing and outsourcing. He is a Certified Healthcare CIO, Fellow of the Institute of Directors and has specific expertise in organisational transformation and Cyber.

Dr Mayur Vibhuti

Dr Mayur Vibhuti is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners with a varied experience of medical education, innovation, and transformation roles in primary care. He is currently Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS Kent & Medway ICB and NHS England Workforce Training & Education directorate GP Associate Dean clinical lead for NHS Kent & Medway Training Hubs. He is also an NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow & a Visiting Reader in Medical Leadership at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.

He has run innovative training programmes for GPs & Multi-professionals working in primary care and set up a pan system innovation hub to accelerate adoption of new technologies.

Research Scientist: Nephrotoxicity & 3D Kidney Modeling

Company Description
DLOC Biosystems is a biotech contract research organization (CRO) that offers preclinical trials on drugs developed by pharma companies using state-of-the-art organ-on-chip technology. It takes $2.6B and 12 years to develop one successful drug because 90% of drugs fail at the late and expensive clinical trial stages. The reason is that preclinical results do not determine the clinical trial failures because tissues grown in the lab do not resemble the tissues in the body. As a solution, DLOC’s organ-on-chip technology focuses on providing the most accurate drug testing services by growing the most in-body mimetic organ models on-chip.

DLOC’s innovative technology has the potential to make drug discovery 50% safer and 40% faster & cheaper. DLOC is achieving this aim by creating patented organ-on-chip devices, automated operating systems, and AIpowered real-time control & data analytics. The devices can grow tissues with microenvironments that resemble the in vivo human tissues, where drugs can be tested, and their therapeutic index can be better predicted.

Role Description and Key Activities
• Conduct experiments to model an organ-on-chip kidney model to test drug-induced nephrotoxicity.
• Provide day-to-day management of the lab
• Carry out standard molecular biology and biochemistry methods with minimal supervision.
• Assist in identifying and characterizing experimental models under the guidance of experienced research staff using organ-on-chip devices with minimal supervision.
• Analyse data of experimental data collected by themselves.
• Provide guidance and supervise the work tasks of less experienced colleagues.
• Prepare the suitable health & safety documents and ensure they’re in place before work commences.
• Ensure the forward planning and coordination of research technical support in their specialist areas. Discuss requirements with the research technical team & be active in liaison with senior management.
• Work in accordance with HSE guidance relating to the use of human tissue (HTA), developing, reviewing, and updating Standard Operating Procedures, COSHH, Safe Systems of Work documents, and risk assessments relevant to their role and in accordance with instruction or training received.
• Work as a member of a broader Team to fulfill duties commensurate with the post’s grade & nature.
• Maintain and actively pursue continual professional development.

This document outlines the duties required at the current time to indicate the level of responsibility. It is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list and may vary to include other reasonable requests.

Essential Qualifications
• Hold a Ph.D. in molecular biology, toxicology, or relevant field. Equivalent experience is considered.
• Experience in working with cell culture, preferably with kidney models.
• Experience in working in an environment with laboratory-based research
• Experience in collaborative working in a relevant environment to achieve team objectives.
• Ability to work using own initiative and to resolve day-to-day issues.
• Excellent organisational skills and the ability to prioritise to deliver high-quality output to deadlines.
• Clear written and oral communication skills. Experienced in health and safety procedures, including COSHH, and contributing to risk assessments within a life science laboratory environment.


Desired Qualifications
• Detailed and extensive knowledge of theory and practice related to the areas of skills relevant to the project (organ-on-chip devices, cell culture, toxicology studies, nephrology)
• Good knowledge and understanding of GLP standards.

You can apply by sending an email with your CV & cover letter in one PDF to

Discovery Park Response to the Autumn Statement

Following today’s autumn statement, there are promising signs of support for the UK’s vital industries, including £4.5 billion of funding for British manufacturers. Discovery Park’s designation as a Life Science Opportunity Zone recognised the park’s growth potential, highlighting the science park’s fantastic infrastructure and ability to support advanced manufacturing. We prioritise the development of sustainable solutions and are pleased to see the commitment to support clean energy included as part of this plan.

With many high-growth businesses based on site, the announced pension reforms and new Growth Fund within the British Business Bank are a welcome inclusion. We look forward to witnessing the impact of this £75 billion of financing for these high-growth companies. This, combined with the announced expense tax cuts, will allow these companies to invest in important equipment to cement their growth.

AI is already playing a significant role in the development of new medicines and technologies, so the £500 million to support Compute innovation centres will be vital to build the UK’s reputation in this growing area and we anticipate the benefits of this growth being felt across industries. We can already see the benefits that convergence is bringing to the life sciences sector and the growing emergence of ‘techbio’ in accelerating the pace of drug development.

The announcement of £20 million in funding for new dementia treatments will be key to developing novel therapies and likely benefit thousands of people, however, the lack of a comprehensive plan to build the life sciences industry is disappointing. The sector is still booming, and we’ve seen an uplift in demand for lab space from new and growing businesses at Discovery Park.

In order to realise the UK’s potential as a science superpower, a focused strategy will be needed alongside an ability to think ‘outside the triangle’. We hope to see the government share more around this in the coming days.

Discovery Park Christmas Market

Join us at the first Discovery Park Christmas Market, where you’ll be able to find the perfect Christmas gift!

We’ll be hosting a diverse array of Christmas stalls, offering delicious food and drinks, and surrounding you with festive tunes. We’d love you to join us, let’s make this Christmas season extra special together!

Find out more and register here.


University of Kent & Discovery Park Collaborative Innovation Showcase

Are you on the hunt for new academic, clinical, and industry research partners? Join us for our Collaborative Innovation Showcase, open to all, in partnership with the University of Kent.

This event will showcase collaborative projects between researchers, clinicians and industry partners funded by the University of Kent BBSRC and MRC Impact Accelerator Accounts (IAAs).

There will also be a reverse pitch event where businesses will be able to present their ideas to both academic and clinical researchers.

Lunch will include a poster session and attendees are encouraged to bring their own research posters and participate in this networking event.

Join us for an opportunity to network and find new academic, clinical & industry research partners!

Find out more and register here.



Kent’s property market recovery reflects changing ways of working and living

The performance of the county’s property industry reflects the recent changes to how the public lives, works and plays, according to this year’s Kent Property Market Report.

Recognising that the country has experienced the economic shocks of the emergence from Covid; the war in Ukraine, and rises in inflation and interest rates, the report highlights that Kent’s property sector is showing early signs of recovery with investment coming forward, especially in the logistics and distribution, science park sectors, and the tourism and leisure industry.

Now in its 32nd edition, the annual Kent Property Market Report is produced by Caxtons Property Consultants, Kent County Council and Locate in Kent.


Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “It’s clear from the report that it continues to be a challenging environment for the industry, with the winners and losers closely linked to changes in how we all live and work.

“What remains unchanged is Kent’s competitive advantage from its proximity to London thanks to its motorway and rail connections, and links to Europe via the cross-Channel ports. Investing in infrastructure is crucial and we recently celebrated the opening of Thanet Parkway railway station. We continue to push the Government for greater investment in the county’s road network, including a start date for the Lower Thames Crossing and widening of the A2, as well as lobbying Eurostar for the return of services via Kent on HS1.

“With online sales up 45% since the start of the pandemic, trading conditions continue to be tough for many high street retailers with the major beneficiary being the logistics and distribution sector which continues to invest across the county. It is good to see is our town centres being recognised as a government priority, with funding support for a number of them, which will persuade more new stores to open in some of them.”


Once again Kent’s location, close to London, means it has outperformed certain sectors in the South East. Demand for commercial space, especially in the logistics and distribution sector, continues to drive rental growth, which is helping to persuade market leading developers to invest.

The county’s science and innovation sectors, both vital to the economic wellbeing of the country’s economy, have also seen investment and take-up of space. The increased global investment in R&D spending in the life science sector post-pandemic is supporting growth at Discovery Park and Kent Science Park, with both bringing new laboratory space onstream.


Mark Coxon, Head of Commercial Agency at Caxtons, added: “Kent’s industrial property sector continues to blaze a trail for growth, with developers benefitting from rental growth that’s beyond the South East average. While land values may have fallen from their peak, investment continues notably in Dartford, Medway, Sittingbourne, and Tonbridge and Malling.

“The impact of how many of us have changed the way we work, especially those who are office-based, is now playing out with businesses and the public sector reviewing their property requirements. With hybrid working looking like it is here to stay, the biggest winners are the co-working space providers, with Kent increasingly well served at the moment.”


Kent’s leisure and tourism sector has bounced back with domestic overnight spend worth £477m in 2021, up 97% on the previous year, stimulating major investments. The result has been an economic tonic for coastal communities, such as Folkestone and Margate, but also Kent’s market towns and villages.

Simon Ryan, Investment Director, Locate in Kent, said: “Again, the Kent Property Market Report shows the region’s real estate resilience despite the challenges of recent years. Investment here brings prosperity for the whole country. Our own research suggests £23 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) could be added by the region to the UK economy by 2050 as investment is made – from delivering faster, more sustainable distribution of goods through the Channel Ports and science park expansion to the green jobs that will supercharge manufacturing, logistics, construction and food production in the region and beyond.

“Our local challenge is to be more agile in responding to market needs through local planning authorities collaborating across boundaries. The planning system needs to analyse economic needs regionally to bring forward more employment sites and infrastructure and not according to arbitrary administrative boundaries. We need to act ‘larger than local.”


The residential property market has been cooled by interest rate rises and the cost-of-living crisis, but according to the Q2 2023 figures from the Land Registry, Kent house prices are still 2% up on the Q2 2022, with Tunbridge Wells the top performer at 10.1% up during the period. Some housebuilders have paused their land buying activities, despite prices having fallen by 10-11% from their peak. The situation is made more challenging for housebuilders due to the ongoing absence of a clear solution to the nutrient neutrality issue, and uncertainty over the Government’s renewable energy and biodiversity agenda. However, major schemes, such as Ebbsfleet Garden City, Otterpool, and Mountfield Park, near Canterbury, continue to progress.

Keynote speakers at the report’s launch included Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park, who highlighted how its community of science and businesses on the site at Sandwich has grown and is now worth more than £324m a year to the UK economy. She was joined on stage by Liz Hamson, editor in chief of BE News, the online industry property news service, who gave her personal take on the performance of the sector and outlook for Kent.



Jane Kennedy commented, “The new Kent Property Market Report reflects ongoing changes in our economy, including the growing importance of R&D and the life sciences. With R&D spending set to rise to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, we’re seeing an increase in demand for laboratory space at Discovery Park, and we’ve welcomed a number of exciting science-based businesses to site.

“Within easy reach of London and the Golden Triangle, Discovery Park provides lab space and headspace located in beautiful Kent countryside with affordable living costs. We look forward to welcoming more businesses to the area and continuing to develop this thriving hub of opportunity, both for the science community and the wider Kent economy.”


The launch of the 2023 Kent Property Market Report was supported by Clear MPW, DHA, Hollaway Studio, MHA, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Thomson Snell & Passmore. It was unveiled on 7 November to an audience of 260 industry guests at the Ashford International Hotel.

For further information on the latest performance of the county’s property industry, visit

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