Innovation, News

New Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation announced

The University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) have linked up to launch a new centre for the development of health technology.

The Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation is one of three initiatives that have been announced to support the development of novel ideas ‘from the point of discovery’ to where they can then be ‘transformed into new products and devices’ to treat patients or be used to prevent ill health in the population.

The other two initiatives, which will complement the new centre, are a Healthtech Catalyst, which links industry and researchers with the public sector, investors and entrepreneurs, and an Innovation Pop Up at Leeds General Infirmary, which will aim to accelerate the introduction of health technologies in the hospital.

The Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation, meanwhile, will be a joint initiative between the trust and university, and it’s hoped this will further enhance the Leeds City Region’s reputation as a health tech hub. According to the university, Leeds is also currently home to ‘more than a fifth of the UK’s digital health jobs’ and ‘hundreds of digital and health technology businesses’. The overall aim, it’s explained, is to ‘elevate the region’ to being a ‘global centre for health research and health technology innovation’.

Set to draw on around 300 clinical scientists and academics from across both the trust and university, the centre will also involve a ‘wider local network of experts’ from industry, other higher education institutions, and healthcare professionals, with the opportunity for people in those areas to take part in collaborative work and research.

The Leeds Centre for HealthTech Innovation will focus on topics such as cell and tissue regeneration, robotics, smart materials and nanotechnology, and advanced imaging and artificial intelligence systems.

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.”

Professor Jayne added that the technology developed will be sustainable and affordable, with four key themes at the centre of the work: technology that speeds up and improves diagnosis; new treatments with fewer side-effects and that improve quality of life; new therapies for specific patient groups; and the development of smart health through apps and wearable devices.

Professor Alex Franji, from the School of Computing at Leeds and another Co-Director of the centre, added:“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, Chief Medical Officer at LTHT, also commented: “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.”

To find out more about what Leeds Teaching Hospitals are working on when it comes to digital and health tech, don’t forget to tune into our live session with David Pickles, Lead Nurse DIT, Informatics Directorate, and Hannah Johnson, Project Implementation and Training Officer, at 11am tomorrow, as part of our HTN Now September 2021 event series.

The duo will be presenting a webcast featuring their reflections on the introduction of new clinical functionality within the Electronic Health Record at the trust’s Children’s Hospital, which you can sign up for here.