Supporting healthcare technology SMEs: an interview with Gary Stapleton, Chairman, Medilink UK

Gary StapletonTHOUGHT LEADERS SERIES...insight from the world’s leading experts

Please can you give a brief introduction to Medilink and the support you provide to members?

We operate nationwide, giving advice and support to all of our members to allow them to develop and grow their businesses. We do this by giving bespoke support in areas such as innovation - from concept to commercialisation, public relations, international trade – including access to many export markets, market research and guidance on procurement as well as many other areas.  We aim to work with our members to improve patient care, while also generating wealth for healthcare businesses in the UK.

As well as this Medilink UK provides engagement for our members at a national level with Government departments and wider bodies – for example the Office for Life Sciences and the UK Ministerial Medical Technology Strategy Group.

How has Medilink developed over the last year to better serve regional SMEs?

One of our focuses over the last year has been delivering sector-focussed skills provision to our members. Having appropriately skilled employees is essential for a successful business, but companies seldom approach training in a structured way.

In addition, technological advances, coupled with an ageing workforce means that recruiting and retaining skilled staff is going to be increasingly important.

We have successfully partnered with Cogent to develop the Science Industry Partnership (SIP), with Medilink leading on a programme targeted specifically at medical technology businesses.

The funding has allowed us to develop a number of dedicated skills programmes across our regions, which has helped to benefit members nationwide.

We’ve also focused on working together more across the regions to make our network even stronger. The national Medilink awards, which were held in April, was a great example of how all of our regional members can come together to celebrate excellence in healthcare technology.

How important has sector-focussed skills provision been for Medilink UK in recent months?

For the reasons outline above skills is becoming an increasingly important agenda item for industry. The SIP has enabled Medilink both to focus on this vital area and provides funding to support it. We have been able to start to identify the skills business really need and deliver skills programmes that specifically target professionals in the medical technologies sector.

This collaboration has allowed us to run courses that are hugely relevant to healthcare technology businesses, while also enabling companies to apply for grants to cover training costs. Skills provision is now a big part of the service we provide, and members find courses much more beneficial when they are tightly focused on healthcare technology.

What impact has Medilink UK’s partnership with Cogent had for members?

The partnership is allowing our members to take ownership of the skills needs of the sector and ensuring this is linked into the wider needs of the whole science sector. We have not only partnered with Cogent, but also with the ABHI. In so doing we are linking up the voices of Med Tech industry with the skills system to create a whole new model for how skills are delivered to the Science Industry, with employers at its heart. At the same time it has helped us to deliver cost effective high quality learning to our members.

News-Medical were proud to sponsor the Medilink UK Innovation Award 2015. Please can you outline the Medilink UK Awards event?

The Medilink UK Awards are a truly national awards that recognise the best of the best. Awards are held in each of the Medilink regions, and the winners of those awards are brought forward into this prestigious celebration of excellence in healthcare technology businesses.

An Insight from the Medilink UK Award Winners of 2015

The 2015 awards ceremony was a wonderful evening that really showed off the strength and diversity of our sector. We celebrated the achievements of companies who are at the forefront of patient care and provide considerable wealth generation to the UK economy.

(A link to all the winners can be seen at the end of this interview).

Who chooses the Medilink UK award winners and what impact does winning a Medilink UK award have?

Panels of managing directors and CEOs from Medilink UK member organisations decided the winners for the regional awards, and the winners go into the running for the national prize where they are judged again.

It’s a hard task as the standard is so high, but all the winners this year truly deserved the recognition.

Not only do the winners receive national publicity which can really boost their brand awareness, but past winners have secured new partnerships and funding as a direct result of their award. The financial impact of an award can really be a real benefit to every winner.

What are Medilink UK’s plans for the future?

We have made tremendous strides over the last year to further develop the organisation to better serve regional SMEs, and that is something that we want to continually work on.

Our network is growing, as we now operate out of eight offices with 48 staff with around 1500 members, and we want to continually improve on the direct regional support we offer in areas such as Innovation and Procurement, PR and Marketing, Export, Project Management and Sector Skills Provision.

Where can readers find more information?

You can find more information on what Medilink UK do, as well as how to contact your regional Medilink office, on our national website -  - and follow our national twitter feed @MedilinkUK (

The Medilink UK Awards Winners 2015 can be viewed here:

For more information on this year’s winners, please visit:

About Gary Stapleton

Gary Stapleton was elected as the first external chair of Medilink UK in January 2014. He is Director 3M Health Care Western Europe, which is a market leader in the infection prevention, skin and wound, drug delivery and Oral Care markets.

April Cashin-Garbutt

Written by

April Cashin-Garbutt

April graduated with a first-class honours degree in Natural Sciences from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. During her time as Editor-in-Chief, News-Medical (2012-2017), she kickstarted the content production process and helped to grow the website readership to over 60 million visitors per year. Through interviewing global thought leaders in medicine and life sciences, including Nobel laureates, April developed a passion for neuroscience and now works at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, located within UCL.


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