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Barclays, UCL & CE launch UK's first accelerator for medicine

Guest blog by Jon Hope, Director at Barclays Eagle Labs

In the heart of Edinburgh, entrepreneurs are working hard to ‘help the world get the best night’s sleep possible’. The team at Thought Beanie combine brain wave monitoring technology with things we wear on our heads every day to get a better understanding of what’s going on inside them. Alongside these insights, they are able to utilise audio-stimulation to improve the quality of your sleep – whilst intelligent AI integration also means the methods employed become increasingly personalised, trying different responses every time until they learn exactly what is right for the user.

With part of its UK-wide team based in the Edinburgh Eagle Lab – one of Barclays 24 co-working, collaboration and innovation spaces across the UK – Thought Beanie is one example of the myriad start-ups exploring the rich field of personalised medicine, or disease treatment and prevention taking into account an individual’s genes, environment and lifestyle. They’re also in good company, particularly when it comes to harnessing AI. According to a recent report released by MMC Ventures in partnership with Barclays, the UK is the heartland of European healthcare AI, home to a third of the continent’s start-ups.

This exciting field is one that many people may not associate with Barclays, a bank with a history stretching over 300 years. However, since the launch of our Eagle Labs network in 2015, we have been harkening back to the very same roots that we first established over three centuries ago – by acting as a convening place for entrepreneurs, businesses, and the public to come together and exchange ideas, knowledge and capital in order to spur innovation. We believe making these connections is more important than ever, as new and emerging technologies are influencing every industry – and in turn, changing where and how we work, and the very skills that we need.

To that end, we’ve been working hard to equip the public and businesses alike to succeed in this new environment. On the health and wellness front, this year alone we’ve hosted three AI Frenzy events – informal gatherings open to anyone interested in hearing the latest developments in AI – focusing on healthtech.

Most recently, we’ve teamed up with UCL and Capital Enterprise to launch the UK’s first precision medicine accelerator, an incubator for start-ups specialising in disease treatment and prevention. The first cohort will see 12 of the world’s best precision medicine start-ups complete a six-month programme, bringing together industry, healthcare and academia in the field to accelerate the exchange of ideas funding and talent in the sector.

In addition to acting as a central entrepreneurial hub, the London-based space will provide residents access to world-class researchers and healthcare partners from UCL, on-site business mentors from Barclays and entrepreneurship expertise from Capital Enterprise.

Innovation has always flourished in the UK. In the 20th century alone, we were the first to develop the television, introduce the jet engine and transfer data on the world wide web – so it’s only fitting to continue the tradition as we enter the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. With a plethora of great ideas and entrepreneurial spirit in health and social care, the future looks bright.

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