New Science and Innovation audit champions medtech in Leeds City Region
The audit, led by Professor John Fisher from the University of Leeds, in partnership with Leeds Beckett, the Leeds Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the region’s other universities and local businesses, highlights that investment could generate around an extra 4,000 jobs, taking employment in the sector to around 15,000 workers.
The global market for new medical and healthcare products is growing rapidly and is expected to increase over the next five years, with a value that is anticipated to reach more than half a trillion dollars.
Most companies operating in the sector are small to medium-sized enterprises with turnover below £5 million.
But the audit found those SMEs face obstacles which are preventing them from taking advantage of the opportunities in the emerging global health market.
- They find it difficult to get new medical devices tested or evaluated in the NHS. Without effective evaluation they will not get to market.
- There is a shortage of appropriate multidisciplinary graduate engineers.
- There are not enough medtech technology and innovation parks where industry and researchers can collaborate – and industrial centres of excellence can be developed.
- There is a lack of wider business and innovation support to help companies navigate a complex and highly regulated sector.
The report concludes that there should be the establishment of a clinical evaluation hub – a ‘test bed’ - where medtech companies can work with the NHS. There should also be a medtech skills academy and a medtech innovation hub supporting companies from research through to evaluation and market – with advice on business support and finance.
Commissioned and published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Science and Innovation audits help regions map research and innovation strengths and identify areas of potential global competitive advantage.
Leeds Beckett University recently invested in a £1m state-of-the-art clinical skills suite, which supports specialist clinical skills training and provides opportunities for product development. The University’s Centre for Biomedical Science Research also supports a diverse group of biomedical researchers working on human disease and wellbeing.
Dr Julian Sorrell, Business Development Manager – Health & Social Sciences at Leeds Beckett, who was part of the Science and Innovation Audit Executive Group, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity in contributing to the production of this audit and welcome the recommendations identified by Professor Fisher and the partnership team. As a University, we are striving to support business growth and educational opportunities in this important sector of our economy and are confident that the audit effectively articulates our City and regional strengths and opportunities for future growth.”
This is a second wave of audits, being launched today by Business Minister, Lord Prior, at the Venture Fest East conference in Newmarket.
Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.
“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”
The audit follows the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in August 2017, which referenced the importance of the medical technology sector, as well as the medtech capabilities of Leeds and its support for more than 200 medtech companies.
The audit highlights how new market opportunities are not coming from the refinement of existing devices, but through game-changing innovation, the creation of brand new products and services. The Leeds City Region has a long association with the medtech sector – through the manufacture of medical devices and cutting-edge research at the region’s five universities.
There are around 250 businesses in the region specialising in medtech and another 200 digital and technology firms operating in the health field. Nearly a quarter of the UK’s digital health jobs are in the region.
“Opportunities and Growth: Medical Technologies for Leeds City Region” is one of several regional audits published today. The full report can be found at http://leedscityregionmed.tech.
Many of the N8 universities are leading the audits, which continue to align closely with the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review published in 2016, which identified key Northern capabilities in Advanced Manufacturing, Health and Life Sciences, Digital, and Energy.
Its publication coincides with the West Yorkshire Economic Growth Conference on 22 September in Leeds, which brings together public and private sector leaders to consider the key business themes and opportunities for growth in the region.