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New UK centre to speed development of health tech

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Leeds University
Leeds university great hall and entrance, aerial view looking north at the university.

A new UK centre to support the development of health technology has been launched by the University 0f Leeds in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

It forms one of three new initiatives in the northern English city aimed at to support novel ideas from the point of discovery to where they are transformed into new products and devices to treat patients – or to prevent ill health among the public.

They are a Healthtech Catalyst, linking industry, researchers, public sector, investors and entrepreneurs; an Innovation Pop Up at Leeds General Infirmary to accelerate the introduction of health technologies in a hospital setting; and the Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation, the joint initiative between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) and the University.

Leeds City Region, covering Leeds and northern parts of the former West Riding of Yorkshire, is currently home to more than a fifth of the UK’s digital health jobs and hundreds of digital and health technology businesses.

David Jayne, professor of surgery at the University of Leeds, consultant colorectal surgeon at LTHT and co-director of the new centre, said: “Our aim is to try and avoid some of the obstacles that get in the way of good ideas ever reaching the patient or wider public.

“Part of the problem is the time it takes to develop new technologies – on occasions, it is far too slow. Some good ideas fail to make it because they fall by the wayside, not because the idea is inherently bad but because the system of development, testing, evaluation and eventually adoption by clinicians can be complex and convoluted.

“What we will be doing is wrapping our arms around these projects and doing our level best to get them through the innovation pipeline. Because this centre is a partnership between the university and the NHS, we can provide support at all critical stages of a project.”

The centre will draw on more than 300 clinical scientists and academics from across the university and LTHT.

Professor Alex Franji, from the School of Computing at Leeds and a pioneer of virtual or in-silica clinical trials, is the other co-director of the centre. He said: “By bringing the strengths of the university, industry and the NHS together, the Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation can play a key role in transforming Leeds into one of the most connected and successful cities in the world for health research and innovation.”

Dr Phil Wood, CMO at LTHT, added: “The Centre for HealthTech Innovation fulfils a vital gap in our healthcare innovation ecosystem, bridging our two institutions to create exciting new interdisciplinary teams with a value-based approach, to address big healthcare challenges, enhance current treatment approaches and use the opportunities of novel technologies to provide benefits for patients.”

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