Who: Life Science Exchange and ehi2

What: EPSRC – Bridging the Gap Sandpit Event

When: 21st May 2014

Where: National Waterfront Museum

Output: £800,000 NIHR i4i Grant Application


On 21 May 2013, the ehi2 team collaborated with the Life Science Exchange and hosted a joint sandpit event at the National Waterfront Museum. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded event aimed to promote ideas for innovative new technologies and methods for the effective management of chronic conditions in the NHS. The event had a large turnout of forty representatives from academic, industrial and clinical backgrounds.

Delegates were organised into working groups of mixed expertise and were given a range of discussion themes to cover. To begin with, each group examined the current management of chronic diseases in the NHS and identified the areas of unmet needs. The discussions continued on suggesting solutions and identifying potential aread for new collaborative projects.

Dr Vincent Teng of Swansea University, who played a key role in initiating and driving the sandpit, said:

The event had opened up many doors for collaboration between the participants. The participants at the Sandpit event have generated a number of exciting ideas regarding effective management of long term conditions, which is affecting two-third of UK population and is an increasing burden to the NHS. The Sandpit is more than just a networking event; it is an event that has facilitated the formulation of novel and exciting ideas, where participants can develop these ideas further and work together through research grant applications.

The Life Science Exchange team received further comments from delegates after the sandpit. Iain Elder, Managing Director for Pulse Medical Technologies Ltd, added:

There was a good deal to be positive about. I will be putting together a strong proposal for grant funding with the organiser, and would be interested to see more proposals coming forward as a result of the event.

When asked about the event, Dr Robin Clark, General Practitioner, told the Life Science Exchange team:

I believe there is mutual benefit for both industry and healthcare with these Sandpit events. Industry does not always have appropriate access to those on the ground within healthcare systems, while healthcare workers, patients and carers etc are not immediately likely to turn to industry to help them solve an identified problem. Potential solutions can now be envisaged as a result of the event, there were clearly a few light bulb moments where participants suddenly understood why certain problems existed or why solutions to those problems didn’t. By engaging all parties and engendering mutual understanding the first steps can be made on bridging this gap.

The Life Science Exchange also spoke with Gavin Jones, Product Manager for EKF Diagnostics Ltd, who commended the team on a well organised and well-structured event. When asked for further comment, he stated:

The sandpit was a great environment for freely discussing new and innovative project ideas. I was impressed with the range of expertise at the event, and came away from the day with some really strong connections.

The sandpit produced several project ideas, one of which has been approved for funding.