Northern partnerships reaffirm commitment to joint working in health innovation

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Northern universities and NHS partners have reaffirmed their commitment to improving the health and wealth of communities across the North of England, driving innovation in health from basic research to products and services that improve the quality of life of the region’s 16m population.

The announcement, between the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and the N8 Research Partnership (N8), comes following the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit at the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle Gateshead last week where CEO of the NHSA, Dr Hakim Yadi revealed the Life Sciences Economy of the North to have grown by £4.4bn in the last year.

The summit brought together businesses, government ministers, northern mayors, business leaders and collaborative bodies from across the North of England to drive forward the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

The N8 is the partnership body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York and aims to maximise the impact of this research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.

NHSA is a membership organisation of the N8 universities, eight research intensive NHS teaching hospitals; South Tees Hospitals, The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals, Manchester Universities NHS Trust, Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Leeds Teaching Hospitals and the four Northern Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN); Innovation Agency, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, North East North Cumbria AHSN and Greater Manchester AHSN.

NHSA brings together these 20 members into a health partnership for industry, researchers and investors interested in health science research and innovation in the North of England.

Support for health innovation is core to the activities of the N8 and the NHSA  with both organisations determined to work ever more closely together to deliver a health innovation economy in the North of England of the highest international quality.  The N8 and NHSA work collaboratively under a Memorandum of Understanding and have been working in partnership for the last five years.

Examples of this partnership working include the recent Science and Innovation Audits (SIA) to map and understand Northern regional research and innovation strengths, and areas of excellence in health research, with particular focus on precision medicine and health data. The NHSA has since submitted the Northern Powerhouse in Health Research SIA to UK Government.

Key areas for joint working in the future are to include, but are not restricted, to Ageing Society (one of the four pillars of the UK Industrial Strategy), Public Health, Data for better health and wealth and Precision Medicine.

Dr Annette Bramley, N8 director said: “The North has distinctive strengths that can be translated into innovation-led growth to take the region towards an economic future built on world class research and collaboration. Growth comes from excellence and opportunity, which we have in abundance.

“The thrust of our agreement is to promote and stimulate deeper collaboration between universities, businesses, the healthcare sector and society. Across the North we work together in key areas where innovation depends on both excellence in leading edge engineering, mathematical, physical, environmental and social sciences, arts and humanities, which are the primary remit of the N8 and leading edge biological and clinical sciences which are primarily the remit of the NHSA.”

Dr Hakim Yadi, CEO of the NHSA said: “The North of England is a world-leader in health innovation through its great universities, NHS hospitals and AHSNs.  We have shared goals and collaboration is a means of helping to grow the Northern economy as well as meeting the challenges in the UK Industrial Strategy.

“We will work together to ensure that all the strands needed for innovation across disciplinary and stakeholder interfaces are developed and coordinated so that innovation in health can be driven seamlessly from the universities and into business and health and care sectors.  We will also develop new priority areas for joint working that align to Northern needs and research strengths.”