Monday 11 September 2017

Report recognises vital role of regional life science clusters

A new report has recognised the vital role of regional life science clusters for important research.

Written by Life Science’s champion Professor Sir John Bell, it provides recommendations to government on the long-term success of the sector.

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy report recognises the significant contribution regional clusters make to the UK’s £64 billion life science sector. The Strategy has called for existing regional clusters to work together to provide a ‘single front door’ to the UK for research collaboration and investment.

By bringing together cluster organisations, trade bodies and academic consortia, the government can identify where the UK has globally competitive research and development excellence in life sciences to attract collaboration opportunities and inward investment to the right places.

Access to medical advances

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, chairs an Academy of Medical Sciences-led Group of the Life Science Clusters across the UK.

He said: “The Strategy highlights the vital role that the life and health science sector plays in ensuring that medical innovations are translated into patient benefits.

“World-class expertise in regions throughout the UK helps to drive the growth of the life sciences industry and this Strategy provides a focal point for partners to collaborate to ensure that the sector goes from strength to strength.

“Importantly this Strategy will mean that patients have access to the best medical advances.”

Northern Health Science Alliance

The National Innovation Centre for Ageing and the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) were highlighted by the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy as examples of regional strength in research collaboration.

Dr Hakim Yadi OBE, Chief Executive of the NHSA said:said: “The Strategy offers the opportunity for a renaissance in UK health and life science discovery and innovation.

“The NHSA is delighted to have been highlighted specifically by the Strategy as a successful exemplar of regional strength.

“Through our current projects, such as Connected Health Cities, we are already delivering world-leading programmes across a number of the Strategy’s recommendations. Thisincludes data and NHS collaboration and we are looking forward to using this network of UK wide clusters to support further delivery of the recommendations in the Life Science Strategy.”

The launch of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy follows a year of intense collaboration between a group of life sciences organisations, including NHSA , MedCity, Life Science Hub Wales and the GW4 Alliance.

The group has been working together to better understand how regional clusters can support the delivery of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, with support from the Academy of Medical Sciences and Wellcome.

Dr Sarah Perkins, GW4 Alliance Director, said: “Continued collaboration between academia, the NHS and industry partners – both within and across regions – is integral to developing an accurate picture of life sciences excellence across the UK.

“GW4 brings together world-leading capabilities across life sciences and we look forward to bringing these strengths to bear as we deliver on the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy alongside other regional clusters.”

Values and aims

Whilst geographically diverse, this group shares common values and aims:

  • They are typically self-assembled to exploit regional expertise and excellence, and promote improved health and wealth both regionally and nationally
  • Many act asmulti-faceted ‘convening’ bodies which bring together the breadth of the value and supply chain including academia, NHS, Government, industry and membership organisations, to drive the economy.
  • They are supported by formal governance systems, strategies and infrastructure to deliver collaborative research and development at scale.
  • These groups are distinct from membership organisations which exist to represent member needs. Clusters have different finance and operational systems that enables independence, and aim to support regional organisations to drive economic value and health improvement.

Sarah Haywood, CEO of MedCity, said: “There is a continuing need to support joining up across academia, industry large and small, and the NHS.

“The Strategy identifies the role that cluster organisations can play in supporting the places that drive the UK’s life sciences sector. Working together we can provide a front door to the UK’s capability and make it easier for different groups to find and work with each other.”

Press release adapted with thanks to the Northern Health Science Alliance and Newcastle University.