How Leeds is boosting Yorkshire's MedTech industry
A major funding boost will help transform the thriving Medical Technology (MedTech) business community in Yorkshire.
The UKRI Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) investment will translate state-of-the-art research from universities into the next generation of innovative healthcare products and services, and help bring them to market.
It will also create jobs and opportunities for future investment and economic growth in the region.
Overseen by the University of Leeds, working with the University of Sheffield and civic partners including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and regional NHS Trusts, this £5 million funding will help grow the Yorkshire MedTech Industry, and benefit an estimated two million patients by 2040.
Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity, supporting the world leading MedTech research and development that occurs across Yorkshire. This critical funding will further align the fantastic research coming out of universities in our region with the needs of the MedTech industry, speeding up the translation of innovative solutions to marketed products.
“This is a great opportunity for researchers, business and civic partners across the Yorkshire region to work together to drive sustainable economic growth, create high-value jobs and unlock private sector investment in research and development.”
Funding will be offered to research groups across the region working on MedTech products to assess the market and clinical needs for new technologies, as well as supporting preliminary and technical work to bridge the existing gap between research and products in market.
The funding will also support networking events, public and patient engagement activities, workshops and secondments.
This funding will support researchers at universities across Yorkshire to work with our strong regional MedTech industry and translate their research into new medical products and services.
The MedTech business cluster in the Yorkshire region is worth £2 billion, with over 200 companies employing more than 16,000 people, with many staff in specialist, high value roles.
Professor Ruth Wilcox, Director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering at the University of Leeds, who led the bid with colleagues from the Insigneo Institute at the University of Sheffield, said: “This funding will support researchers at universities across Yorkshire to work with our strong regional MedTech industry and translate their research into new medical products and services.”
Professor Paul Hatton, Faculty Director for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: "This major investment recognises the importance of the Medical Technologies sector across Yorkshire that aligns closely with shared academic strengths in health and biomedical engineering. Harnessing the combined research power of Leeds and Sheffield universities will drive innovation and new product development, creating jobs and growing the regional economy.”
Science Minister George Freeman MP said: “The UK is already home to clusters of world-class science and technology talent, bringing together top universities, cutting-edge research institutes and enterprising businesses of all sizes and it is crucial we channel these hubs of scientific advance and growth to level up our country.”
Professor Miles Padgett, Interim Executive Chair at EPSRC, said: “I’m pleased to announce our first ten Place Based Impact Acceleration Accounts which will play a unique role in enhancing the capabilities of innovation clusters across the UK. A key priority for UKRI is to strengthen clusters and partnerships in collaboration with civic bodies and businesses, thereby driving regional economic growth.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Our region is a leader in health tech and this investment will help the industry go from strength to strength.
“We’re committed to working with our partners, across the public and the private sector, to build on our global reputation for innovation and deliver a stronger West Yorkshire that works for all.”
EPSRC has awarded the consortia leading the ten projects a total of £41 million through a new scheme called Place Based Impact Acceleration Account (PBIAA). Project partners have committed a further £7.8 million.
The Universities of Leeds and Sheffield have strong track records in engineering and physical sciences research related to MedTech, centred on the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering at Leeds and the Insigneo Institute in Sheffield. These very much mirror the local business strengths including orthopaedics, dental, implantable devices, instruments, and surgical technologies.
While there is synergy between University research strengths and the business prominence in the region, there is currently a gap in the innovation funding pathway that is preventing technology innovations developed at the region's universities from being adopted by local companies.
The aim of this place-based impact acceleration account (PBIAA), worth £5 million, is to provide support to bridge this gap and build the connections between the local government, academic, industrial and clinical assets in the region that will help grow the regional economy. It is particularly timely because the MedTech sector is modernising, and there is increasing integration of new technologies into products and services.
There are growing numbers of high-growth, high-innovation MedTech companies in the region with the capacity to benefit from this PBIAA, and we will also proactively engage with established companies that need to adopt new innovations to address the changing markets.
Commercialisation of innovations in the MedTech sector is especially challenging due to the regulatory barriers for products intended for use in humans, with evidence from extensive pre-clinical testing required to demonstrate the safety and efficacy.
The PBIAA will fund High Impact Projects which will act as exemplars to encourage further business engagement, and outcomes will form a portfolio of evidence to inform future activities.