Saturday, November 06, 2004

More science than politics

Interesting morning at Chilworth Science Park. They now host the NHS enterprise hub and a number of medically related businesses are located in their business incubator unit.
First stop was OrthoView which is, essentially, a computer system that assists orthopaedic surgeons in deciding which hip, knee or shoulder replacement part to use. I was curious to know how they had thought of the idea (they used to be a web design firm) and it was the usual interesting story of a chat in a pub with a friend who made x-ray film and was bemoaning the move to digital. They saw an opportunity, went for it and now have a product with a global market.
It wasn't quite as easy as I have made it sound though because there were a number of problems in obtaining start up funding.

Next on the agenda was coffee and a chat about the new NHS Innovations network. The idea is to spread "best practice" in the NHS. It is not before time because, particularly when I was on the Health Select Committee, I frequently came across examples of good ideas and innovative solutions to problems but there was no mechanism for informing other people. Of course - the NHS don't describe it as simply as that - they refer to "commercialisation of NHS Intellectual Property"

Next was Englyst Carbohydrate Services. It was quite a technical presentation (although I think they were aware of my science background) but basically they are doing a lot of work analysing various components of various carbohydrate products to distinguish between healthy and relatively unhealthy products. There is a lot of work being done around the glycaemic index. I had always understood that products with a low GI (pulses, most fruits and others) were good and those with a high GI (refined starch products) were bad but it appears that the picture is slightly more complicated - I have been given some papers to read on the subject!
Interesting work at a time when Government and media are concerned about the obesity "epidemic".

Last stop was Ferring. This is a pharmaceutical company which deals mainly with hormonal products. The Chilworth site is R& D but I can't say too much about work in progress because of commercial sensitivities.

An interesting morning.