In conversation…Richard Paxman, CEO of Paxman

As we continue our series of In conversation interviews to share what’s happening in innovation, we talked to Richard Paxman, CEO of scalp cooling pioneers, Paxman.

As we continue our series of In conversation interviews to share what’s happening in innovation around the Leeds City Region, we talked to Richard Paxman, CEO of scalp cooling pioneers, Paxman.

Paxman has been pioneering scalp cooling technology worldwide for over 20 years and Richard shares with us how innovation and a desire to do things better are at the core of their work.

Q1. Can you describe what innovation means to you in five words?

A drive to solve problems and improve lives (…sorry a little more than five).

Q2. What does Paxman pride itself on?

We at Paxman pride ourselves on doing the right thing for our patients. Every decision we make should have the patient at the heart of it. We are global leaders in scalp cooling, on an ambitious and exciting journey to change the face of cancer.

Q3. In what ways is innovation part of your business?

Innovation has been embedded in our business from the founder of Paxman, my father Glenn and his brother Neil. My father’s vision was to ensure patients didn’t have to lose their hair like my mother did; it comes from a desire to do better.

This desire to make our device work for more patients, with more availability, drives every one of our team to innovate – it can be product improvements, process improvements, how we work together or the way we communicate to the world. Group thinking is encouraged with ideas shared and tested, as well as connecting with academic partners such as the University of Huddersfield and the National University of Singapore to support our innovation.

Q4. How do you think innovation will help with our region’s economic recovery?

By supporting innovation and Research & Development, it creates new ways of thinking and allows us to solve societal problems and leads us to form global collaborations. We can then invent new technologies, services and ways of working which can transform the world around us, improving living standards and health outcomes, not only locally but globally – scalp cooling is an example of this.

Q5. What would you say businesses can do to drive an innovation culture in these uncertain times?

An innovative culture in uncertain times is possibly even more important than in normal times. We need to think of innovation as more than just new technology but about the way we do things, the way we work, the way we communicate.

Driving this innovative culture means you must create a safe place to share ideas, allowing your team to test and potentially fail without unfair consequence. In a state of flux and change it can often be easier to implement change and new ideas. 

Q6. How has the business had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to pose historical challenges for patients, clinicians and health care systems around the world. It is therefore having a significant impact on how we work. We had to adapt quickly as most businesses did at the beginning of the pandemic.

Paxman has not stood still during these challenging times. In fact, as a team we have worked harder than ever, focusing on innovative and digital approaches to communicate with our existing customers and build relationships with new customers.

The safety and wellbeing of our team is paramount, as well as ensuring the business could still operate to service our customers and patients. For me, flexibility, support and understanding here is vital; keeping in touch is critical.

Some changes that became necessitated by the pandemic will permanently transform how we work and, in some cases perhaps for the benefit of patients, physicians and nurses.

What advice would you give to a business wanting to innovate?

There is a lot of support out there and I would strongly recommend you reach out to the LEP. It is a complex environment to navigate in terms of support but the LEP are there to help businesses and will work with you to understand what the best route is. It is also worth building a relationship with your local university; we have had a fantastic experience with the University of Huddersfield.

Q8. What’s next for Paxman?

Scalp cooling remains our key focus with a goal to ensure everyone who needs it has access to scalp cooling. How we can improve it continues to drive innovation through the business – we don’t stand still and are dedicated to improving scalp cooling efficacy.

Paxman is committed to an ambitious Research & Development programme, with much of it led by our colleague Pat Burke, and a significant share is conducted in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield. The PAXMAN Scalp Cooling Research Centre is the world’s first multidisciplinary research centre focused on scalp cooling, with initial focus on two key projects: topical products and 3D printed cooling caps.

A new area of research for Paxman is the development of a miniature cryocompression device used to prevent Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

Chemotherapy and other drugs used to treat cancer can cause peripheral neuropathy, which refers to symptoms arising from the damage to peripheral nerves. CIPN causes progressive, often irreversible pain/sensitivity in hands and feet, and significantly increases healthcare costs as well as leading to a poor quality of life in cancer survivors.

With strong clinical data we at Paxman believe this could be at least equal to the global scalp cooling market, with already much greater medical interest.

Innovation support

If you have specific support requirements around improving or developing new products, processes or services please visit our Innovation page or contact our innovation team. Our team of Innovation Growth Managers, part of the Connecting Innovation programme, can connect and partner businesses with the right support for your project.

The LEP Business Support Service is here to help businesses, get in touch with our helpline to find out more.

Connecting Innovation (and former programme, Access Innovation) is delivered by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.