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Building an SME community with The MedCity Online Community Platform

In late 2021, we launched our pilot of a new online community for life science SMEs. The platform was built to serve SMEs who are either based in, or wish to connect into, the London life sciences ecosystem, acting as a singular place for them to access all the right support, funding and people they need to thrive.

The MedCity Online Community Platform was officially launched at the start of 2022. Since joining MedCity in November 2021, Travis Walton, our Digital Communications Officer, has worked with Communications Project Lead Kim Watson to develop and launch the Community, which is open to anyone, globally, interested in becoming a part of London’s life sciences ecosystem. The Community is hosted on a virtual platform, with physical networking planned as a key component.

Here, Travis tells us more about the vision for the Community and what it has achieved so far:

Building community

The vision for the MedCity Community Platform was to create a unique space where life science SMEs can network, discuss challenges and cultivate ideas with their peers. Addressing fragmentation within the ecosystem and difficulties in networking efficiently, it’s the only online platform exclusively for life sciences. We hope, by bringing these companies together, they can learn from each other, forge collaborations and, ultimately, help each other grow.

In the short time since its launch, we’ve been delighted to see the Community’s membership growing steadily. We now have over 60 members on the platform, from SMEs that span the breadth of life sciences.

Sharing knowledge and tailored support

As well as networking, the Platform also acts as a forum for us to share the latest ecosystem news and funding competitions, helping SMEs find key opportunities to showcase their company at both a national and international level, and to secure investment for growth.

Members of the Community also receive specific, tailored support from MedCity , via an initial 30-minute 1:1 with a member of the MedCity team, to discuss key areas of interest, and gain crucial advice on what steps to take next. Advice on where to access finance, how to seek out collaborative research opportunities, and how to expand internationally are all topics that are commonly discussed in these 1:1s. These specifically tailored sessions are expanded and built upon in our weekly life sciences briefing, another central benefit of the Community.

These half-hour briefings are an opportunity for our team and SMEs to discuss more general issues and challenges that companies face in the London life sciences ecosystem, often driven by a special guest speaker, who will usually be vastly experienced in several areas relating to life sciences. So far, experts such as Ian Campbell OBE (formerly Chair of MedCity and Executive Chair of Innovate UK, and current Executive Director at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), Jo Pisani (current Interim Chair of MedCity and Trustee of LifeArc), and Dr Simon Kerry (Founder/CEO of Curve Therapeutics) have been amongst our most popular guest speakers.

As the membership of the Community grows, we look forward to offering more and more specialised workshops and webinars to our SMEs. Whilst our members do already have access to several events that are run by our partners, such as VWV’s lawyer in residence series, our next goal is to be able to offer one-off online workshops and events available exclusively to the Community.

Online community goes in-person

The early success and growth of the MedCity Community was a key focus of our recent networking event on 22 February, our first in-person event of 2022. As well as featuring a number of MedCity’s partners and associates, the event was attended by several of our Community SMEs, providing an excellent opportunity for these entrepreneurs to network with investors, lab providers and legal specialists, as well as being able to learn more about MedCity.

Two of our Community SMEs spoke at the event – Jorgen Ellis and Michelle Elliot from Strolll, which has just raised investment through the MedCity Investment Hub, and Dimitris Athanasiou from Neurofenix, who is also involved with our Collaborate to Innovate programme. Their speeches at the event helped to highlight both the importance and quick integration of the Community platform into MedCity’s long-term vision.

Speakers at our networking event – from left to right: Jo Pisani, MedCity Interim Chair; Jorgen Ellis, CEO & Co-Founder of Strolll; Dimitris Athanasiou, Co-Founder & CTO of Neurofenix. Jorgen and Dimitris are members of MedCity Community.

What do members say?

The Community has so far been well received amongst our members. Giovanna Forte, from Forte Medical Ltd, said of the platform:

“(as) A new member to the MedCity Community, I am impressed with the leadership team’s response to matters that are important to us… For SME HealthTech businesses, this kind of access to and interaction with those in a position to help make a difference, is truly welcome.”

Ravi Janapureddy, from RCube Health, said:

“I am excited to be part of the MedCity Community over the past months. I found the weekly briefing with latest happenings very useful with expert guest speakers in Life Sciences dropping in to inspire us. It was great to discuss business challenges with peers alongside 1-1 tailored support with introductions to legal and academic experts.”

Krzysztof Potempa, from BRAINCURES Ltd, also spoke highly of the platform, saying:

“The MedCity Community is a wonderful place for aspiring and experienced bioentrepreneurs to meet and grow together. I highly encourage SMEs to join the community, to benefit from on-demand content and half-an-hour virtual briefings each Friday”.

With such positive feedback from our ‘early adopter’ members, we look forward to welcoming many more SMEs from London and beyond, and to seeing even more positive outcomes, as we help grow today’s SMEs into tomorrow’s thriving major companies.

If you’re part of a life science SME that either operates in London or wishes to connect into the London ecosystem, please register your interest in joining our Community via our engagement form.

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