On Wednesday 15 September 2021, SETsquared Exeter launched a new series of events as part of the University of Exeter Enterprize Zone activity.  Over the coming months these ERDF funded Discovery Room events will be bringing together SMEs, sector experts, researchers and entrepreneurs with an opportunity to examine new technologies across a variety of sectors, showcasing innovative applications and exploring their opportunities for adoption elsewhere.  Importantly, the events also provide the occasion for making valuable connections – building a network with sector peers, experts and other SMEs – whether in person or online.

This inaugural event was the first of its kind to be delivered by the SETsquared Exeter team and a hybrid setup allowed participants – and speakers – to either attend in person or online via Zoom.  For those attending in person, the host venue for this first event was Exeter Science Park but it is anticipated that other venues across the region will be used in future, allowing a choice of local in person attendee access for those who prefer a face to face experience.

For this first event the theme looked at innovations in health technologies using the Smartline Project as a case study. Proceedings were kicked off online and broadcasted for those attending in person to see and hear, by James Rowberry, Knowledge Exchange Officer for this Cornish project sharing insights of how, by uniting researchers, organisations and businesses, communities are being helped to feel healthier, happier and more connected through the use of new technologies.

Emma Seymour, also from the Smartline project, spoke about how the project is able to support a variety of enterprises across multiple sectors and revealed how forging new partnerships is demonstrably propelling business development and growth.

One such example is Cornwall-based business, TouchByte, whose Managing Director, Jeremy Sneller  attended the event in person as a speaker and who shared first-hand how his collaboration with the Smartline project and partnership with the South West Academic Health Science Network (“SW AHSN”) has enabled the expansion of his business despite the rise of the Covid pandemic.  Previously working primarily in the hospitality sector, TouchByte has been able to adapt its face recognition technology to support applications within the health sector and beyond.  Thanks to the Smartline and SW AHSN partnership and support Jeremy explained how he was able ascertain the feasibility of application into these new markets. Touchbyte continues to grow with further exploration of new sectors with a focus on user-centred, design thinking.

The Discovery Room event concluded with breakout rooms both for those attending in person and online – one group focusing on business applications with Jeremy Sneller and the other group discussing research development and partnerships with James and Emma online. Both online and in person participants were once again given the option to network with those attending in the opposite setting.

Dr Seb Stevens, Co-Founder and Research Director of Apollo Health Innovations who attended the event in person said: “The discovery event was a great opportunity for our business to network and learn about the support available to digital health innovators in the South West. SETsquared Exeter did a great job to ensure that we all felt comfortable, encouraging social distancing in a well ventilated event space. I will definitely be attending more in-person events at SETsquared Exeter in the future!”

Remarking on the event and launch of the Discovery Rooms Frances Tanner, Community Manager added:  “We are keen to make all the events in the series hybrid by design, allowing opportunities to join the conversation, hear about new technologies and to build their own network whether they join in face to face or in person.”

The next Discovery Room is a larger event taking place on Wednesday 20 October at Exeter Science Park and online focusing on “Routes to growth in digital healthcare – innovation and funding pathways” featuring Caroline Cake, CEO of Health Data Research UK and Jonathan Sterne, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology in the University of Bristol’s Department of Population Health Sciences. This event is a must for those interested in developments in the health tech sector and those looking to apply for funding. For more information visit the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/routes-to-growth-in-digital-healthcare-innovation-and-funding-pathways-tickets-170015784789