£10m boost to improve patient care with new technologies

New scheme will give leading researchers and businesses the chance to work together to help those facing life-threatening conditions

  • Government backs researchers with £10m to develop innovations that will transform patients’ lives and significantly boost UK life sciences sector
  • Investment to support and speed up new treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases, from cancer to strokes
  • Funding comes as new visa route for overseas scientists and researchers becomes law

A new £10m scheme will give leading researchers and businesses based in the UK the chance to work together to develop treatments and cures for those facing life-threatening conditions like cancer and dementia.

The UK is home to one of the strongest, most-productive health and life sciences industries globally.

The sector is worth £75billion a year and employs 250,000 people across the UK.

Launched this week by the Life Sciences Minister, Nadhim Zahawi; the new Innovation Scholars Scheme will support secondments for academics to develop new technologies and techniques to help NHS patients as soon as possible.

The scheme offers investment to support collaboration in life sciences between researchers and industry.

The UK is home to one of the strongest, most-vibrant health and life science industries globally, with discoveries and improvements in health diagnosis transforming people’s lives

And it will include developing new healthcare wearable technologies such as smartwatches and monitors, diagnostic devices like mobile health units, and new personalised medicines based on patients’ genetic information.

The Government also announced six new locations that have been awarded the prestigious designation of Life Science Opportunity Zone (LSOZ).

These will be able to attract investment from national and international businesses linking research expertise with business skills.

Zahawi said: “The UK is home to one of the strongest, most-vibrant health and life science industries globally, with discoveries and improvements in health diagnosis transforming people’s lives.

“Collaboration is vital to growing this sector and this new £10m scheme will support the exchanging of ideas, knowledge and skills between researchers and businesses while encouraging strong collaboration with them, the NHS, and the Government.”

The announcement came as the Home Secretary hosted a reception at No 10 Downing Street for the science community alongside the immigration and sciences ministers, marking the opening of the new Global Talent route which will incorporate a new fast-track scheme for top scientists and researchers.

What many are still struggling to recognise is that the majority of the most-pressing issues our health service is facing – even down to its overworked staff – can be combatted by intelligent technologies

Through the new immigration route, top scientists, mathematicians and researchers from around the world will be given fast-tracked entry into the UK, enabling the country to remain at the forefront of scientific discovery, from life sciences to climate change.

The six new Life Science Opportunity Zones are:

  • Stevenage Advanced Therapies Campus, Hertfordshire
  • Birmingham Life Sciences Park, West Midlands
  • Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Oxfordshire
  • Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridgeshire
  • Porton Science Park, Wiltshire
  • and Discovery Park, Sandwich, Kent

Experts working in these centres have government support to promote their life sciences parks through government officials working with the zones to attract investment from national and international businesses.

Speaking to BBH following the announcement, Justin Hall, vice president and general manager at iRhythm Technologies, said he hoped it would help to speed up innovation, adding: “Established to better support the advancement of contemporary treatments and cures, the underlying message behind the scheme’s launch was apparent: meaningful innovation is currently taking far too long.

“Even when technologies are reaching breakthrough stage, adoption and evolution is slow, problematic and confusing.

“This has unsurprisingly led to the opinion that there are more crucial problems for the NHS to try and tackle.

“Digitalisation is a nice to have; but staff retention, A&E wait times, and access to care are fundamental.

“What many are still struggling to recognise, however, is that the majority of the most-pressing issues our health service is facing – even down to its overworked staff – can be combatted by intelligent technologies.

“But, in order to see real transformation, we need to try something new. And, to get us there, we must establish a clear and realistic pathway for these technologies, based on collaboration and a commitment to change.”

It is no longer a choice of prioritisation. It is a matter of radically changing or letting our health service diminish

And he added: “Although there is still a way to go until we can be confident that the industry is doing enough in terms of its digitalisation efforts; it’s certain that we are moving in the right direction.

“The UK is home to some of the most-cutting-edge, life-changing medical technologies. But the problem is, the majority are stuck in their infancy due to a lack of awareness and adoption.

“If our health service is to remain fully functioning, we need to start thinking beyond the day-to-day and about long-term sustainability.

“This not only requires a change to digital infrastructure, but also to culture.

“If we continue to leave the modernisation of the NHS to just a few, we cannot expect the many to benefit from it.

“We need to give people the right tools to provide the right care, and this can only come from having the right attitude.

“It is no longer a choice of prioritisation. It is a matter of radically changing or letting our health service diminish.

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