Phil Carvill from the North West HealthTec Cluster outlines the importance of health technology research and how the RCP is involved.
What is health tech research and why is it important?
The UK is globally recognised as a leader in health technology research and innovation. Health technology encompasses a number of disciplines across life sciences from medical technologies and digital applications, to pharmaceuticals and biomedical technologies. In the north of England alone there are over 28 universities fuelling research, education and skills development and over 1,200 life science companies employing more than 50,000 people (figures provided by Bionow).
Critical however to the future of innovation creation is to enhance the engagement between industry, academia and clinical services to create evidence-based research that drives not only the co-creation but also cultural adoption of innovation, particularly in emerging areas such as precision medicine. The UK also has a world-leading clinical training and development base with over 42,190 medical students in the 2017/18 academic year alone. While training has increased, it is also imperative that we continue to look for ways to support existing and future clinicians the opportunities to develop.
How is the North West HealthTec Cluster working with the RCP?
The RCP is taking a leading role in trying to support this cultural change and drive opportunities for clinicians to engage in research.
In order to support this, the RCP is actively working with partners both within the health system and beyond – one such collaboration is with the regional HealthTec Cluster where the RCP will be establishing its northern headquarters in the north west of England.
Clusters are created to promote an environment where connection and collaboration are championed, access to knowledge bases, facilities and technology are made easier and the opportunity to learn from and work across sectors is promoted. The HealthTec Cluster provides an opportunity to bring together hubs of expertise from across industry, academia, the public sector, investor networks and entrepreneurs to share ideas and collaborate to stimulate innovation and tackle global challenges.
The regional HealthTec Cluster spans across the north west of England, including Cheshire and Warrington, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Regions. These regions come together regularly to share knowledge and to support the development of health technology research and innovation that can support both healthcare transformation and the growth of UK plc.
The North West HealthTec cluster initiative hosted at Sci-Tech Daresbury, was launched in 2019 following the successful establishment of thematic clusters hosted at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire where three rapidly growing clusters in Space, HealthTec and EnergyTec exist.
Now a year old, the regional HealthTec cluster, despite the current pandemic, has continued its ‘connecting capabilities’ mantra and worked to drive inter and cross-sector collaboration, connection and awareness and to promote opportunities for research and innovation further afield. Where it started as a partnership between two organisations; The Innovation Agency (The North West Coast Academic Health Science Network) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council – part of UK Research and Innovation, it is now a stakeholder matrix of over 50 organisations and continuing to grow providing a unique collaborative framework.
It is this strong matrix and connective ecosystem that provides an opportunity to work collaboratively with organisations like the RCP to identify areas of synergy, co-develop solutions and coordinate resources that can support RCP members and the collective vision for everyone to have the best possible health and healthcare.
How can I learn more?
If RCP members would like to learn more the cluster, it hosts regular huddles where attendees can learn about opportunities and even ‘pitch’ their latest news. Alternatively you can sign up the newsletter or contact the head of the cluster, Phil Carvil, directly.
- AHSN Network Report: Genomic Innovation:Technologies for personalised medicine
- General Medical Council Report: The state of medical education and practice in the UK – The workforce report 2019
- HealthTec Cluster marks first anniversary