As we’ve often referenced, the Hub has been closely engaged in the Science and Innovation Audit process and had the pleasure of sharing insightful data with the Leeds City Region SIA. Our component delivery bodies also seek to deploy resource in pursuit of place-based and sectoral advancement, and in this article – reproduced from the Knowledge Transfer Network website – Life Sciences Director at the KTN (and former Hub director) Sue Dunkerton OBE, reflects on the findings emerging from the Audit and the vital next steps in realising the potential of the Life Sciences sector in the region.
Highlighting strengths in Leeds medtech
With a $386bn global market (2016) and a UK turnover of £17bn with direct employment of 93,600 (2016), Medical Technologies (medtech) is both nationally and internationally important as an economic driver. It is also a growth market; demographics, healthcare challenges and consumer demand are all driving change in what will increasingly be a mixed model of clinical and consumer markets. Delivering wealth and improving quality of life are direct benefits of working or investing in this market.
But medtech has been a poor cousin compared to pharma, mostly because it is a sector with a large SME based (98% of businesses in the UK) with many different products, each of which need to find their own route to market with few single large customers (and a home customer base which is itself fragmented and slow to adopt).
KTN is therefore pleased to see efforts to help articulate some of the opportunities in this sector, particularly building on evidence of UK strengths where progress can be made to instil some UK leadership in this exciting and rapidly evolving sector. September 2017 saw the launch of the Leeds City Region (LCR) Science and Innovation Audit (SIA), which focused exclusively on Medical Technologies. LCR can claim a number of multinationals within their geography, and can demonstrate a wealth of scientific and clinical excellence of a scale that already creates economic wealth for the region. This is complemented by many innovative SMEs, partly building on the musculoskeletal strengths of the region, but as is the case with medtech, spanning many areas including digital health, diagnostics, wound management, analytics and regenerative devices.
Supporting a strong case for Leeds
KTN is pleased to have supported the efforts of the University of Leeds and their neighbouring universities, to develop a strong case for medtech, and can see how this is complemented by other SIAs from other strong regions in the UK, notably East of England (minimally invasive devices, imaging and digital health), Midlands Engine (diagnostics and imaging), Innovation South (prosthetics & orthotics), Liverpool (infection) and Oxford (digital health). Not forgetting our strong regions that have not so far undertaken an SIA for medtech.
What is needed now is some coordination and further leadership, to provide a voice for the sector and to help support those SMEs with the capability and appetite for growth. This year is significant; the new life Sciences Industrial Strategy has just been released; actions are starting to arise from the Accelerated Access Review; and there are potentially new investment opportunities through a multitude of sources including i4i’s new SME mechanism (i4i Connect), the East of England’s Medtech Accelerator, Innovate UK’s Digital Health Technology Catalyst and Health and Life Sciences competition and UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
KTN is ready and willing to support this initiative; now is the time to collaborate not compete and the SIAs have helped demonstrate complementary strengths giving us, the UK, an excellent base to build from.