New support looks to breathe new life into health tech sector

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The healthtech sector is set to benefit from a range of major new initiatives launched across Leeds and the wider city region that aim to transform the delivery of healthcare and accelerate economic growth.

With a heritage of innovation within the health and medical sector the region is looking to capitalise on the growing demand for medical technologies – a market which is forecast to grow globally to be worth over $675bn by 2022, and investor demand – with venture capitalist in UK healthtech reaching a record high of $2.35bn last year.

The new programmes aim to bring together partners to showcase a connected ambition and include a healthtech catalyst that links industry, academia, the public sector, investor networks and entrepreneurs to stimulate innovation and commercialisation. This will be led and managed by Leeds Academic Health Partnership and be free-to-join.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will also be supporting the scheme with a innovation pop up at Leeds General Infirmary. The pop up is described as a dynamic new approach to nurture and accelerate innovation, adoption and spread of health technologies within a primary care/hospital setting. It will also build on the joint research project by the University of Leeds and the Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which is known as the Leeds Centre for Healthtech Innovation and brings together a community of circa 300 scientists and clinical academics from across the University and the Trust and is part of a wide network of industrial, academic and clinical partners from the Leeds City Region.

Outside of Leeds the programme will also see the creation of two innovation hubs; the Bradford and Craven Innovation Hub will be focused on ageing well; while the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Innovation Hub will be focused on creating a unified approach to capturing, validating and solving the unmet needs of the local population, and will be hosted by the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (YHAHSN).

The YHAHSN will also support the scheme through its Propel@YH accelerator programme, which is in its third year and aims to support SMEs with innovations that can help the NHS and social care organisations with recovery and transformation in the wake of the pandemic. This is a wider partnership scheme including Nexus, BArclays Eagle Labs, Leeds City Council and Hill Dickinson and offers a structure course of support and advice for businesses.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, commented: “The Healthtech Catalyst is an exciting initiative to accelerate healthtech innovation in our region and I am proud to support the launch event. We want to make a difference in our region and this collaborative platform will not only support local businesses in the healthtech sector, it will also support improved health outcomes for patients.

“Together, we are positioning the Leeds City Region as the engine room of health ideas and innovation that will drive levelling up, contributing significantly to the post Covid-19 economic and health recovery, not only for our region’s economy, but for the whole nation.”

Dr Liz Mear, managing director, Leeds Academic Health Partnership, said: ““Health technologies can help people better manage their own health and health conditions, support health and care staff to do their jobs better and ultimately save lives. We’ve seen amazing levels of collaboration across organisational boundaries, creative thinking and fast adoption of digital and technological solutions throughout the pandemic. And we now need to accelerate that kind of adoption.

“The exciting new initiatives launching this month mark a huge, collective step forward for healthcare innovation in our city and our region, specifically for health technologies. This will contribute significantly to the post Covid-19 economic and health recovery we all need.”