Introduction – BREATHE Partners and Industry Forum

BREATHE is funded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to promote collaboration across academia, industry, NHS, and Third Sector to catalyse data-enabled advances in the understanding and treatment of respiratory illnesses in the UK.  As a recipient of UKRI funds, BREATHE takes it responsibility with regards to driving the use of health data in research to transform respiratory health very seriously and has identified small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as a particularly keen and innovative sector with which to work.

This alignment parallels the UK government’s own Innovation Strategy and seeks to tap into not only direct commercial opportunity and income, but also the collaborative academic/SME grant and loan schemes supported by UKRI.[i]  Initially supported by in-kind contributions from six Founding Partner companies, BREATHE has since increased its commercial network through the onboarding of 14 additional Supporting Partner companies and formalised activities and relationships with this network of 20 companies through the creation of a BREATHE Industry Forum.

A full list of BREATHE Founding and Supporting Partners is set out in Table 1.  All Founding and Supporting Partners are now members of the BREATHE Industry Forum.  New members of the BREATHE Industry Forum are welcome.

We are proud of how we have grown and focused interest from such a wide range of companies with a special interest in respiratory disease and especially proud of the work we have done in support of SMEs: From the very early stages of technological innovation to product/concept evaluation and implementation at scale and pace.

We have done this via careful relationship building, facilitated access to specific respiratory datasets and leveraging of our in-house respiratory expertise and our wide-reaching collaborations.

Table 1 – BREATHE Founding and Supporting Partners

Company Founding Partner/Supporting Partner Description BREATHE Industry Forum Member
Novartis Founding Pharma Yes
Teva Supporting Pharma Yes
GE Healthcare Founding Healthcare Yes
Albus Health Founding Med Tech Yes
Arete Medtech Supporting Med Tech Yes
Breathe Biomedical Supporting Med Tech Yes
Circasia Supporting Med Tech Yes
Clement Clarke Supporting Med Tech Yes
Eupnoos Supporting Med Tech Yes
Intermedical Supporting Med Tech Yes
Respiri Founding Med Tech Yes
Smart Respiratory Supporting Med Tech Yes
Vatic Health Supporting Med Tech Yes
Vitalograph Supporting Med Tech Yes
Benevolent AI Supporting AI/ Software Yes
Diveplane Supporting AI/ Software Yes
Precision Life Supporting AI/ Software Yes
Savana Supporting AI/ Software Yes
Storm ID Founding AI/ Software Yes
Tiny Medical Apps Founding AI/ Software Yes
Association for Anaesthetic and Respiratory Device Suppliers- Barema N/A Trade Association Yes
Association of British Healthcare Industry (ABHI) N/A Trade Association Yes

BREATHE Industry Forum and Partnership Scheme – Bringing value to SMEs and others

Within BREATHE, we have access to a team of respiratory experts who are passionate about improving respiratory care and outcomes. These include our Principal Investigators (PIs) who are clinical and data experts in primary and secondary care, as well as our epidemiologists and data scientists who are supported by the BREATHE Commercial Team.

We have taken the time to understand the challenges facing SMEs with a special interest in respiratory disease and have even facilitated our Industry Forum feeding their take on the challenges they face directly into the Office of Life Sciences (OLS) at the very start of their consultation on respiratory disease and research blockers.  We are very well placed to find flexible solutions to overcome barriers that SME’s face when it comes to accessing high quality data and data expertise, including soon to be access to synthetic datasets, that could be used to test out ideas or proof of concept studies.

BREATHE uses its Lay Board members and our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Curiosity Group to review all companies wanting to join BREATHE as Supporting Partners and, once approved, through our BREATHE Industry Forum we constantly seek to match the best ideas and solutions that combine commercial and academic prowess for the improvement of respiratory health.

Overall, BREATHE offers our Founding and Supporting Partners, through the BREATHE Industry Forum:

  1. Expertise (clinical and epidemiological)
  2. Peer-to-peer relationships with like-minded companies
  3. Support with, and collaboration on, funding opportunities
  4. Access to curated data/analysis to support bids and their innovation and research and development in general

Industry Forum and Partnership Scheme – Value to BREATHE

The BREATHE Industry Forum members are from a range of companies, focused on medical devices, connected devices, advanced laboratory equipment, innovative AI and ML software, and middleware that connects digital products to health care records. Further to this, the involvement of pharmaceutical and health tech leaders such as Novartis, TEVA and GE Healthcare provides the BREATHE Industry Forum members with world-class partnerships and collaborative opportunities. Member companies are not just from UK and this global reach provides a diverse portfolio of products, plans and ambitions linked to patient care and healthcare research.

We have jointly developed a Terms of Reference for the Industry Forum and the group is Co-Chaired by an elected member of the BREATHE Industry Forum, alongside the BREATHE Partnerships Lead. The Industry Forum Co-Chair is also serves as a member of the BREATHE Board and provides added commercial challenge and know-how to our forward view and sustainability plans.

In addition, some BREATHE Industry Forum members also bring with them important datasets because of their work and products.  BREATHE works with these member companies to import, curate and link their data with the wider BREATHE data eco-system housed in our Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank Trusted Research Environment (TRE).  Most recently, BREATHE Industry Forum member and BREATHE Supporting Partner, Smart Respiratory Ltd, has shared its extensive asthma and COPD patient peak flow dataset with BREATHE and its use is already being considered by another BREATHE Supporting Partner, Eupnoos, to help develop their new lung function technology.

The Future

In 2022, our ambition is to grow the BREATHE Industry Forum and take on more BREATHE Supporting Partners.  Doing so will increase our chances of stimulating commercial opportunities for BREATHE and collaborations on grant applications.  We are currently working in collaboration with a range of key organisations including the Association of British Health Industries (ABHI), Health Tech UK, SETHA, Digital Health London and several Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to attract new BREATHE Industry Forum members and new BREATHE Supporting Partners.   Working in collaboration with our Supporting Partners, we wish to also create new sources of data and stimulate faster innovation and commercial opportunities.  We will do so, through:

  1. Collaborate with other key partners such as ABHI to publicise our BREATHE Industry Forum and our data-driven commercial services
  2. Our BREATHE Industry Forum LinkedIn Group to accelerate networking, collaboration and commercial ideas generation among BREATHE Industry Forum members outside of regular meetings
  3. Presenting with our Forum members at external events
  4. Building on our current partnership work with PIONEER Hub to produce a guide to synthetic data for SME’s and interactive webinar in April 2022
  5. Raising commercial income for BREATHE through securing sponsorship and developing an attractive subscription model for the BREATHE Industry Forum in 2023

We are rightly proud of the work our Industry Forum has done and excited about the opportunities it has yet to bring.  We will leave the final word, however, to Greg Burch, CEO and Clinical Director, Tiny Medical Apps Limited (BREATHE Founding Partner and Industry Forum member) to sum up the difference that BREATHE’s creation and work in this area has made:

“Tiny Medical Apps (TMA) is a UK-based SME and developer of the Digital Health Passport – a mobile app that supports young people to self-manage their asthma. TMA was a founding member of BREATHE and over the last three years has grown rapidly with the direct support of the organisation. In particular BREATHE has helped TMA by:

  • Providing expertise from an extensive network of world-renowned asthma specialists
  • Supporting successful funding applications from Innovate UK and NHSX that have led to new products being rolled out across all of NHS England, and with export potential.
  • Linking to PPIE groups for co-design and validation of the product.
  • Forming collaborations with other commercial organisations.
  • Education about new government policy, guidance, and grant opportunities.

Our journey from a small R&D SME to having a product that is about to scale nationally would have been infinitely more difficult without the support of BREATHE.”

[1] Businesses – UKRI.  Accessed 14/3/2022