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New cross-sector partnership to boost Leeds City Region healthtech sector

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More than three million citizens across the Leeds City Region are set to benefit as senior leaders from the healthtech industry, the regional enterprise partnership, the NHS, local authorities, and five universities announced a dynamic, new partnership to accelerate health technology innovation.

This bold commitment is the first of its kind in the region. Partners have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to drive forward new approaches in improving patient and population health and care through better and faster healthtech innovation.

The move also aims to radically speed up the region’s productivity and economic growth in the sector, which is seeing an unprecedented rise across the UK and globally.

Dr Liam Sutton, Associate Director Research and Innovation at the University of Bradford said: "The University of Bradford already works effectively with health and care providers, health technology companies and fellow higher education institutions in Yorkshire and the North in teaching, research and innovation. Through the initiative, we expect to find new collaborative avenues for our students and researchers to contribute to the health and wellbeing of people worldwide and to support the development of highly productive, growing companies in the West Yorkshire economy."

As the UK’s largest economic region outside of London, the Leeds City Region already has a world-leading concentration of excellence in healthtech. It is home to

  • more than 250 healthtech businesses
  • 200 digital and technology businesses operating in the health and care sector
  • leading centres of academic excellence in research and innovation, and
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, the third largest integrated health and care partnership in the country.

But, as set out in the Government’s Leeds City Region Science and Innovation Audit (SIA), stronger, cross-sector collaboration is vital to overcoming the barriers to growth.

This new partnership agreement will put in place the strong, coordinated leadership and support required to fully capitalise on what is a globally burgeoning market. In 2015, that market was estimated to be worth $371 billion and was forecast to grow to $529 billion by 20221.

That growth is being driven by factors such as growing and ageing populations, the rise in levels of obesity and chronic illness, technological developments and an increasing demand for medical devices. 

The new MoU announced today was arranged and prepared by Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP), one of the biggest partnerships of its kind in the UK.

Signatories to the MoU include

  • The Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI)
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership
  • Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Leeds
  • University of York

In signing the MoU, all partners have agreed to work together to drive economic growth and improve health outcomes and service efficiency by:

i)      finding personalised and community-based healthtech solutions that help the people of the Leeds City Region to live healthier lives for longer, particularly those living in identified priority neighbourhoods

ii)    sharing insights into what citizens and patients in the Leeds City Region need, to determine what the priorities should be for health and care services and industry. Together, all partners will then work together on agreed priority themes that meet citizens’ needs

iii)   driving inward investment in healthtech in the region to support economic growth which is inclusive, benefiting all communities.

Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Leeds, John Fisher, who led the production of the Leeds City Region SIA, said:  “This MoU signals an important step towards embracing the opportunities and realising the ambitions set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy. It paves the way for us to reduce fragmentation, further harness expertise and capability and radically strengthen the Leeds City Region’s position as a leading global player in healthtech.

“Each partner will play their part in helping address and overcome the barriers to innovation.  By working together in a new, focussed and coordinated way, we will accelerate radical improvements in patient care, health service efficiency and drive economic growth and productivity across the region and the UK.”

The MoU offers a new opportunity for partners to better understand the region’s health needs, and how they can support development, testing, and deployment of healthtech at scale.

Rob Webster, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership said: ‘We are delighted to be part of this agreement.  Innovation in health technology has the potential to transform services, improve health outcomes and most importantly save people’s lives.  This Memorandum of Understanding is an important step in developing closer partnerships between health technology companies and health and care organisations across our area. 

“It means that people will be able to benefit more quickly and systematically from technologies that can help them.  It will also drive inward investment into our region and support our goals for inclusive growth.” 

Partners will now form a leadership group to take this work forward. They will agree mutually beneficial themes on which to concentrate investment and efforts, and which reflect citizen and patient needs.

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