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In his role as European General Manager for mental health care software developer Valera Health Ltd, Michael Morgan-Curran is aware of the challenges that can face start-ups in the healthcare sector. Having 25 years’ experience across pharmaceutical, life sciences, health insurance and telecommunications, Michael has lead a number of initiatives in the USA, South America and EMEA regions. Michael and his team are constantly seeking new ways of growing their business and he recently attended our Accelerating your Healthcare Start-Up programme in partnership with Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven.  The first module took place here at Imperial College London, the second in Belgium at Vlerick Business School.

Which aspects of the programme particularly resonated with you?

I particularly liked Imperial College Business School’s ‘Design Thinking in Healthcare’ and ‘Reframing the Health Problem’ Sessions. The course really challenged our technology design thinking and pressure tested whether we had identified the right drivers for change. It helped us to articulate the right arguments and think about the right measurement for success. It also helped generate compelling value proposition which could be shaped for different client groups and varying business models.

Vlerick Business School’s sessions on ‘Entrepreneurial Finance’ were incredibly powerful. They dispelled financing myths and delivered very clear, step by step sessions on how to plan for success and how to ensure you have the best financial plan possible. We also explored how to understand the kinds of investment that will work for our businesses and how to navigate the complex world of seed and venture capital investment.

How did you find the experiential learning aspects of the Programme?

I found the teaching that Imperial College and Vlerick offered forced us out of our comfort zone. Both modules encouraged memorable and impactful learning alongside lateral thinking. The Performance Simulator at Imperial College was useful because it enabled us to compare what we thought was our reality, verses what peer groups and psychologists thought. The ideation charts took a scientific approach to review business performance. Although it helped us to affirm what we already knew, it also constructively helped identify areas for improvement and methodologies that would accelerate improvement. The brand new Health House in Leuven is dedicated to technology innovation and ensured that we had the opportunity to present to investors and critics. In fact, the fifteen minutes of intense presentation required crisp messaging and slick slides to keep a large live audience engaged. The audience questioning then required precise responses to help win them over.

How did the two modules differ?

The two modules complimented each other and both focussed on the end goal. It was invaluable to end the programme having felt that our technology had been robustly assessed and critiqued by UK and Belgium experts from two of the world’s leading business schools. Both modules helped us better understand how to penetrate the UK and Belgium markets but synergistically the content was designed to ensure we left the course with our businesses in better shape and more compelling business propositions. I felt ready to accelerate our engagement with potential stakeholders, healthcare systems, payers and investors. I also feel better prepared to win and generate business.

How did you find the mentoring aspect of the course?

The friendly and supportive approach that both schools took was very personal and made the mentoring process very attractive. The mentoring hasn’t stopped as the teams are on hand to help further, offering strategic advice and introducing us to new leads.

Did you find the networking aspect of the course interesting? Did you learn anything from other participants?

It was great to meet other technology teams and learn from their experiences in their respective countries. We were able to cross-share strategic, tactical information and insight as well as useful business contacts. And in a few instances, we discussed potential joint ventures where our technology converged.

Are you applying anything you learnt on the programme back in your company?

Yes, we will continue to apply learnings from the programme and particular themes will become part of our iterative review process. We have already seen some really positive business leads as a result. Equally, the in-country introductions in Belgium and England generated by the Schools are turning into longer term business relationships, and in turn are generating deeper business discussions.

It can sometimes feel lonely leading the charge for the success of your company’s technology. This programme has been great in bringing European technology companies together; helping us share experiences as well as the gripes. It feels great to be part of a new community.

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Valera Health Ltd is a mental health workforce management software developer specialising in service and quality improvement for mental healthcare providers and Clinical Commissioning Groups with cloud-based technology. Their AI powered technology has been co-designed, with patients and clinicians, to better manage patient demand, improve access and perform patient risk profiling so that healthcare professionals can personalise more effective and immediate treatment, move less intensive patients into remote care treatment and focus on face-to-face treatment for those with the most need. The solution is for general practitioner referred patients, patients requiring step-down care into the community from acute units and patients referred from accident and emergency and urgent care centres.

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