On Tuesday 1 October, at The Lowry in Manchester, we hosted our biennial Innovation Symposium, bringing together veterinary professionals and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to discuss the evolving role of the veterinary professions and the advancements in both companion and production animal care in the UK and across the world.
Below you will find the full reports and session recordings from the day.
Keynote: Survival in the New Normal: the Impact of Digitisation on Customer Behaviour
Keynote speaker Nancy Rademaker, a partner in nexxworks, a digital consultancy, began her address with a question: “Do you know this object?” she asked the audience, showing them a picture of an old-fashioned rotary dial telephone. Every member of the audience agreed that, yes, they did know what the object was.
Welcome and Introduction
More than 100 delegates were welcomed by Dr Chris Tufnell, RCVS Council Innovation Lead, who explained that ViVet had been set up in response to concerns from the veterinary professions that technological innovation would happen “despite us, rather than because of us” and they could be left behind.
The changing role of the veterinary professional
How will the role of vets have to evolve in a precision medicine future? That was the question considered by Guen Bradbury, of Innovia Technology. She began with the following definition of precision medicine: “An approach to medicine where we consider an animal’s genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors in our diagnosis, management and prognosis of disease.”
Low-cost real-time genomics – a revolution in veterinary diagnostics
Iain MacLaren-Lee of Oxford Nanopore Technologies spoke at the inaugural ViVet Innovation Symposium at The Shard in London in 2017. At that event, he had shown delegates a pocket-sized genome sequencer that the company had developed and he returned to the 2019 symposium to explain how the technology has evolved since then.
Application of precision medicine, AI, genomics and the use of data for animal health and welfare
Dr Jasmeet Kaler, of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham, discussed how information derived from sensors and other sources can be used to develop machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) that can be applied across animal health, welfare and production.
Artificial intelligence and agriculture
Can artificial intelligence (AI) add value in agriculture? This was the question addressed by Dr Matthew Smith of Microsoft Digital.
AI, he said, has potential applications in many areas within agriculture, whether that is helping to increase productivity and profit, or saving farmers time and allowing them to get more sleep.
Driving positive change – communicating to a changing demographic
“As businesses, we have to be seen to act with purpose and drive positive change,” began Collette Philip, founder of the brand and strategy agency Brand By Me. She explained that, in the past, organisations had been divided into those responsible for driving social change and “doing good”, and those responsible for driving profit. Now, these two things are “one and the same”.
Student Veterinary Innovation Competition
Students taking part in the final of a Veterinary Innovation Competition, pitching their ideas for innovation in the veterinary industry.
Zoe Skinner – Competition Introduction
Madison Hewitson – Nottingham Vet School
Rohilla Rogers & Lauren Sweeney – Bristol Vet School
Christina Ratcliffe & Ana Almeida-Warren – Liverpool Vet School
Changing customer attitudes and preventative veterinary medicine
“Pets are truly part of our family,” said Kathy Turner, Corporate Vice-President and General Manager for Idexx Laboratories, describing how attitudes to pet ownership have changed in recent decades. While the data she cited to support her presentation originated in the USA, she explained that similar trends are being seen elsewhere in the western world.
Anticipatory regulation – how regulators are proactively addressing innovation
Daniel Berman, lead of the Global Health Team at the innovation foundation Nesta, considered how regulation can be used to stimulate innovation. Nesta, he explained, works with multiple organisations on “everything around innovation”, bringing new technologies to projects for public benefit.
Accelerating innovation in the NHS
Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation at NHS England, had recorded a short video for the ViVet Innovation Symposium to describe how innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare is now being encouraged within the NHS.
Two entrepreneurs from the NHS programme then gave presentations on the ideas that they had developed into start-up companies. Dr Mark Martin, a trainee GP and founder of Set Points Health and Dr Tom Oakley, a radiologist by background who is now the CEO of a public limited company that has floated on the London Stock Exchange.
RCVS Knowledge – Evidence into practice & Initial findings of the telemedicine study
Chris Gush, Chief Executive Director of RCVS Knowledge, gave a brief introduction to the work of the RCVS’s charitable partner, explaining that it offers a range of services to help advance the quality of veterinary care for the benefit of animals, the public and society.
He was followed by Lori Teller of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, who had been commissioned by RCVS Knowledge to carry out a literature review on telemedicine.
Motion: In order to thrive the veterinary professions must become truly ‘customer-centric’
Chair: George Gunn MRCVS
First Speaker for the proposition: Gudrun Ravetz MRCVS
Second Speaker for the proposition: Ebony Escalona MRCVS
First Speaker for the opposition: Iain Richards MRCVS
Second Speaker for the opposition: Lynne Hill MRCVS
Precision veterinary medicine: a vision of the future
Guen Bradbury MRCVS and Greg Dickins MRCVS, use roleplay to show examples of what the role of veterinary professionals could look like if we adopt the technology advances and innovations showcased throughout the day.
A profession with innovation at its heart
Anthony Roberts, RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation, focused on three key themes from the day. The first was changing consumer demand. The consumer of old is gone and reiterated Nancy’s message that “loyalty has been replaced with convenience”.