On Tuesday, 31 January, the second accelerator program for EyeFocus came to a close with our Eye-Care Innovation Conference. The capacity crowd gathered at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Prince Phillip House to hear from a wide array of innovators and experts in the health care, investment, business and tech fields.
The day began with panelists Robin Spinks, John Worsfold, Florence Orban, Chris Jenkins and Alan Tinger focusing on how to translate innovation into what people need and use. We had three leading UK charities represented – RNIB, RSBC, and the Thomas Pocklington Trust – and they discussed how they use innovation and technology to help people live with and manage their conditions.
Following that, we heard from leading experts in the investment field describing the range of investment approaches from impact to purely commercial, and how the two can converge to create for-profit, commercial investments with social outcomes. The panel featured Chris Mairs, Paul Miller, Lennart Hergel, Savvas Neophytou, Katrina Cruz, representing Ananda, ClearlySo, Bethnal Green Ventures and DeepBridge Capital. Our third panel of the day focused on commercialisation and how to take ideas to the marketplace. Professor Chris Dainty, Catalina Cernica, Tram Trinh and Matt Hartley explored the journey startups must make in order to be successful.
After lunch, we heard from panelists Ian Jordan, Adebayo Ogunjimi, Louis Clearkin, Steven Hicks and Michael Ter-Berg about the opportunities and obstacles faced from spinning out of universities. The group featured eye-care startups who have spun out of universities and clinical settings. They discussed their experiences building a company from this point, as well as the opportunities and obstacles faced along their journeys of going from a research project to a fully fledged business.
Next we heard from panelists who each face the struggles associated with visual impairment, Paul Bepey, Léonie Watson and Robin Spinks, as well as EyeFocus CEO Toby Stone. They looked at the work being done by RNIB, BBC and the Pacello Group to support the development of cutting-edge technology in accessibility. Our last panel of the day focused on the big business of eye-care. The group, featuring Inga Deakin, Rafiq Hasan, Mark Rogers,Tom Cavanagh and Pearse Keane, discussed how funded startups become big businesses in the eye-care sector.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear about some of the latest innovations in the eye-care industry, including the Quicksee, a device designed by PlenOptika to help users identify their eyeglass prescription with the push of a button; Feel the Route, a digital haptic device developed by FaTHER to help visually impaired people navigate cities; 3Clouds by Yumé, a soothing thermal therapy designed to help relieve dry, puffy and tired eyes; and many more. All of the startups we heard from include:
- MAG Optics Ltd
- Oswald Foundation
- Thomson Screening
- 3Clouds by Yumé
- EyeYon Medical
- 20/20 Optimeyes
- Arthur’s Eye
Thanks for Joining Us!
The team at EyeFocus would like to thank everyone for supporting the conference. We’re grateful to everyone who was involved. To see more photos from the event, check out our Flickr or Facebook pages.