16 December 2016
GIANT Health: A gathering of the clever and the curious and not a white coat in sight
Last month we went to the GIANT Health Event – three days focussed on innovative healthcare technologies. Held at the Coronet Theatre, an unusual and ‘disruptive’ venue in London, GIANT is the first UK event of its kind. With a genuinely collaborative agenda, it brings together entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors, tech wizards, health practitioners, students, professors, consultants, and large corporates.
The programme opened up a dialogue around a number of key themes, including
We already have extensive knowledge in this area thanks to our longstanding relationship with RB (Reckitt Benckiser), one of the event’s key sponsors, so we were keen to see more about where this fast-paced industry is headed.
Here are our key takeaways:
Takeaway 1: Shared journeys
The standout theme was the huge shift from the traditional doctor/patient relationship to one where consumers take more ownership of their own healthcare. It’s the catalyst for many innovative new healthcare platforms, enabled by technology and changing attitudes towards how our data is collected and used.
This goes beyond simple transparency issues, such as encouraging GPs to allow patients to view their own file notes. It invites a deeper discussion about responsibility, empowerment, and how healthcare brands and consumers speak to each other.
Innovation in healthcare technology is increasingly driven by insights into the way we live our lives. For instance, RB takes a pod-based approach to innovation, looking for category-wide insights to help it invest in NPD. RB’s VP of Innovation & Sustainability, Dave Challis, asserted that focus groups are fast becoming a thing of the past. What matters most to brands these days are consumer rituals – anticipating how our habits will evolve and tech’s ensuing role in that.
Takeaway 2: Where’s the brand?
We were a little surprised that there wasn’t a greater discussion of the fundamental importance of “brand” within the ‘how-to’ sessions. In fact we only heard ‘brand’ discussed once, when Paul Rudd from Salus Digital described how to attract talent to new ventures. It’s true that a strong brand can support recruitment, but there’s a more obvious and bigger benefit to establishing your brand early on. It’s the blueprint and driver for every expression of your enterprise, defining how your people behave and what you want your audiences to understand about you at every encounter.
We think it’s abundantly clear that the brand is the crucial tool innovators need to better understand their market, and to attract customers and investors. For example, biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey said that within our lifetime the physical act of ageing will be completely under medical control. This will completely transform the way brands target and communicate with older consumers, and many speakers alluded to the fact that current representations of ageing and all it entails are clichéd at best and tabooed at worst. So three cheers go to the wonderful Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, ex-nurse turned consultant to the care industry, who dared to have a discussion about older people and sex! She also made a very important point about safe sex, quoting data about the increase in STIs in the over 50s – something for brands such as Durex to consider?
Takeaway 3: Established brands and start-up partnerships
There was an incredible surge of energy at the event to find ways to harness personal passions to get new ideas to market. This was particularly evidenced by the willingness of established brands such as RB, Johnson & Johnson, and Samsung to create hotbeds within their own companies for new innovators. By providing investment and space to people working on category-wide challenges, these companies stand to benefit from deeper consumer insight and solutions that can transform entire categories.
For example, RB discussed its Healthier Tomorrow Challenge, an initiative run in conjunction with crowdfunding portal Indiegogo to help define new product ideas and consumer rituals. Start-ups take part in a ‘Dragons Den’ style competition to help them bring their products to market, taking advantage of RB’s manufacturing and distribution channels. The partnership with Indiegogo also allows RB to gauge public opinion from the outset, fast becoming a more reliable and important litmus test.
Other interesting stuff
There were so many interesting innovations at GIANT – clever use of AI, virtual and augmented reality, wearable tech, new apps – so here’s our ‘best of’ edit:
These start-ups are also good examples of the importance of branding in order to be taken seriously by end consumers and investors alike. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.