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Life Science Sector Deal highlights Midlands’ strengths in health innovation

The Government’s new Life Sciences Sector Deal, published on Wednesday 5 December, highlights the significant role that the Midlands plays in the UK’s Life Sciences sector.

The Life Sciences Sector Deal is designed to ensure that new pioneering treatments and medical technologies are produced in the UK, improving patient lives, developing skills and driving economic growth. The deal aims to bring together the government with universities, charities and numerous large and small businesses to make a joint commitment to invest in all parts of the United Kingdom.

Midlands Health Innovation, a partnership of seven research intensive universities across the Midlands, has been working closely with government to raise awareness of the region’s strengths, to help to ensure that the Midlands is well placed to drive delivery of the UK’s Life Sciences ambitions and tackle the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges.

The new Life Sciences Sector Deal recognises the region’s nationally-leading expertise in clinical trial clusters and health data science and highlights the significance of the Midlands manufacturing heritage on the Life Science sector - a key legacy strength with transferable expertise to unlock new opportunities in data integration and usage as well as innovative technology development. The document also identifies the region’s integration with industry, local government, universities and the NHS collaborating to deliver new technologies and treatments.

Speaking about the Life Sciences Sector Deal, Professor David Adams (Chair of Midlands Health Innovation) said: “The Midlands has one of the most advanced, well-connected academic-NHS infrastructures in the UK, which is closely integrated with leading Medical Schools. This includes the second largest clinical trials cluster in Europe, with six major clinical trial units, and we host almost a quarter of the UK’s MedTech companies.

“We are also pioneering new initiatives in the region. Through our Medical Technologies Innovation Accelerator (MTIA), the Midlands is working to accelerate the development, prototyping and testing of new medical technologies – including those in early disease detection.

In addition, we are also a national health data leader, providing the opportunity to evaluate and apply new technological solutions and processes into real-world systems.”

The Midlands has been successful in securing significant funding in Life Sciences over recent months. Some of the successful investments and partnerships have included:

  • A new £300m Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre, (awarded £70m from government), which is working with the NIHR Trauma Management MedTech Cooperative and Medical Device Testing & Evaluation Centre, to drive development of technologies such as robotic exoskeletons and scar-reducing wound care products.
  • The Health Data Research UK Midlands Substantive Site, one of six national awards, was created to address challenging healthcare issues through the use of data science. With a £3.5M investment, HDR UK Midlands will bringing together excellence in research, clinical care, healthcare informatics and data science to improve diagnosis, refine prognosis and personalise treatment for patients regionally and nationally.
  • A joint Digital Pathology Centre has recently been established across a consortium led by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire/University of Warwick and including the University of Nottingham and industry. With £14M from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Centre will use NHS pathology data to drive economic growth in health-related AI.
  • Birmingham Health Partners raising more than £100m during 2017/18 to expand initiatives in genomic medicine, diagnostics, clinical trials, healthcare informatics and medical technologies underpinning the strategy for development of the new £300m Birmingham Life Sciences Park.
    • Boehringer Ingelheim, which is partnering with the Leicester Diabetes Centre and the Leicester Real World Evidence unit to design and deliver high-quality, real-world studies. This is a data science-enabled ecosystem which is delivering large, collaborative, NHS-partnering innovation platforms.
    • The Institute of Translational Medicine, which has leveraged over £44m in new research and clinical innovation funding across industry, philanthropy and public bodies to accelerate precision medicine studies and clinical trials.

On behalf of Midlands Innovation, Dr Helen Turner (Director) said: “The Life Sciences Sector Deal once again emphasises the importance of working in partnership to tackle the biggest global and UK healthcare challenges before us. These partnerships need to enable action at pace and scale to ensure that our patients, citizens and our economy realises the benefits of the innovations emerging from the sector, and that we collaboratively identify and solve the remaining barriers to transformative change.

"Midlands Health Innovation exists to reinforce, extend and leverage exactly this ethos of collaboration, and we are proud to be delivering many of the projects, programmes and platforms that are leading the way in this healthcare revolution."