Mersey medtech innovation is saving lives

Writing for LBN Lorna Green, CEO of Liverpool city region medtech start-up support project LYVA Labs, explains how Merseyside is a ‘hotbed for innovation’

Lorna Green
Lorna Green CEO of Liverpool city region medtech start-up support project LYVA Labs


Liverpool city region is a hotbed for innovation in medical technology (medtech) and life sciences. A big reason behind its success is the investment and support on offer for start-ups and entrepreneurs. 

Many start-ups struggle to access the funding needed to bring ideas to life. In the world of medtech, the journey is especially complex. There are regulatory hurdles and challenges with procurement and NHS affordability.

Companies also need to show clinical evidence of impact through real-world trials which can take years to complete.  But we need this kind of innovation more than ever.

The UK has an ageing population with more people needing surgery for hip and knee replacements. There is intense pressure on community nurses to deliver care for chronic conditions such as leg ulcers.

That is not to mention the obstacles posed by the pandemic and its impact on priorities for the NHS.

Idea to impact

LYVA Labs is a new non-profit organisation set up by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. It works with entrepreneurs and businesses that are at the ‘idea stage’ of their healthcare business journey.

It helps them access funding and resources to progress from an idea to a functioning product or service. Its mission is to be a partner for healthcare innovators which would otherwise struggle to access the support, expertise, and resources needed to make their idea a reality.

The project supports businesses through proof of concept, product development, and finding the right clinical partners. If an entrepreneur already works in the NHS (and that is becoming more common), LYVA Labs can also help set up the business to ensure they do not need to sacrifice their current role to get the business moving.

Having secured its first funding allocation of £7.5m at the start of this year, LYVA Labs is a springboard for new businesses across the region looking to make a difference in healthcare.

Although it invests on commercial terms, it is not a venture capital fund. Any return on investment will continue to be reinvested to support future entrepreneurs and start-ups. 

Its goal is simple: to drive those returns to create an effective model for economic growth across Liverpool city region. That way more life-saving innovations can be born, making a difference for local people and those around the world.

Making the difference

LYVA Labs completed its first investment in May 2022 with Frequasense, a diagnostic tool that rapidly identifies whether a patient has bacterial sepsis. LYVA Labs invested £175,000 to help the company develop and trial its technology, and access further funding from Innovate UK.

More than 40,000 people die every year in the UK from bacterial sepsis and more than 250,000 are affected. Almost one third of sepsis deaths are preventable. 

Frequasense had received several grant funds to support its research. It had been awarded a Smart Award from Innovate UK of £300,000 to finalise the development of its point of care prototype to get it to commercialisation.

However, because it is a start-up it did not have the required match funding. Based on LYVA Labs’ investment, Frequasense was able to secure the Smart Award and proceed with its funding mission.


Sky Medical Technology has developed geko which enhances blood circulation


Building a brighter future

The future of healthcare relies on innovation and collaboration. To empower the region’s excellence in healthcare innovation, LYVA Labs works alongside other local bodies – such as the Innovation Board for the Liverpool City Region and the local Academic Health Science Network.

Bernard Ross, chief executive of Sky Medical Technology, and a member of the Innovation Board, knows first-hand how vital this approach can be.

His company has benefited from the valuable support network on offer in the region and its ground-breaking geko device is now being used across the NHS to enhance blood circulation in patients at risk of life-threatening blood clots. 

READ MORE: Mersey medtech firm secures £5.6m investment

He said: “Innovation is critical to driving both local and national economic growth. It helps attract investment in the region that translates to highly skilled and well-paid jobs. More importantly though, innovation has the power to save healthcare systems money while also saving lives.

“Having the support of collaborative partners has helped me lead a medtech start-up through the hurdles of adoption, regulatory approval, affordability, and every other challenge. These experiences are now helping me make key decisions on the Innovation Board to drive further growth in the region.”

The pandemic showed healthcare systems that it is possible to quickly adapt to meet pressures. It has also presented an opportunity for a new wave of medtech innovations to come to the fore.

The key to their success will be identifying those exciting inventions that make a difference and sharing them across the system.

Lorna Green is CEO of LYVA Labs, a non-profit organisation that supports early-stage medtech start-ups in Liverpool city region. Previously, Lorna was the commercial director at the Innovation Agency where she supported early-stage businesses and clinical entrepreneurs.

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