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Symposium Showcases Midlands Health & Life Sciences Innovation Opportunities

The Midlands has a thriving health and life sciences sector which is ‘perfectly placed’ to provide innovation and investment opportunities thanks to its collaborative partnerships, history of research excellence and existing translational strengths.

Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Engine outlined the region’s strengths and expertise at the Midlands Health and Life Sciences Symposium on 24 November - the first event of its kind celebrating research strength and clinical expertise within the region.

The Midlands Health and Life Sciences sector is worth £26 billion a year in GVA and researchers, clinicians and industry bodies in the region continue to address immediate public health challenges, build the future of clinical research and realise better patient outcomes through health data science.

The symposium delivered by Midlands Innovation Health (MI Health), Midlands Engine Health and Medilink showcased this capability and reinforced how the themes contribute to economic growth and levelling-up.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences addressed public health challenges in her keynote speech and explained that it was important to close the gap between NHS and academia, recognise wider research and increase participation opportunities with district general hospitals. She also stressed that “efforts to prevent climate change will improve health outcomes, and the role the NHS and research can play in that is a real opportunity.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director, HDR UK presented on data science and its role in improving health outcomes. He said: “The pandemic has demonstrated the vital role of health data research to support policymakers and system leaders to make evidence-based decisions. The UK has an outstanding opportunity to develop a trustworthy health data research ecosystem that will support improvements in patient care, public health and clinical trials.  This will require collaboration and team science on a scale arguably never seen before with public involvement at its heart.”

Dr Louise Wood, Deputy CEO of NIHR discussed the future of clinical research. She explained clinical research needed to be better embedded in the NHS, more patient-centred, with more streamlined processes and innovative designs, supported by a diverse workforce. “The mighty Midlands has successfully led the way in COVID-19 trials because of local leadership enabling seamless collaboration between researchers and acute medical clinical service staff, underpinned by the region’s NIHR research infrastructure. Greater cross-region and cross-sector collaboration in the future will ensure the Midlands makes the most of its assets.”

With over 40 speakers and almost 200 attendees, the symposium demonstrated the breadth and commitment of Midlands partners to collaborating to solve global health challenges.

Professor Pauline Walsh, Convenor for MI Health Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Medicine and Health Sciences at Keele University said: “The range of topics, speakers and workshops at this symposium highlights the breadth and strength of expertise we have within the Midlands. I’m delighted we have been able to showcase our regional strengths and the extensive work that is taking place to advance health and medicine through research and clinical trials, train future medical staff and improve patient care at this socially-distanced event.”

Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Engine, said: “The Midlands is renowned as a centre of excellence and innovation in a whole host of sectors, including truly remarkable strengths in health and life sciences. This symposium quite rightly showcases our region’s wealth of clinical expertise, our powerful collaborative networks and world-class facilities. Globally recognised, our region's leaders are transforming clinical outcomes, working to tackle health inequalities and creating the solutions to today's and tomorrow's health challenges. 

“This important event is also an opportunity to showcase exceptional investment opportunities which will generate significant scope for economic growth - creating high value, high skilled jobs - which underpin community health and prosperity. These include the UK Centre of Excellence for Regulatory Science and Innovation, the National Rehabilitation Centre, the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus and the UK’s first 11.7 Tesla MRI in Nottingham, which will provide a world-leading platform for neuroscience and clinical study. All of these and many more demonstrate that the Midlands is truly at the heart of UK health and life sciences.”

To read more about the event, for details of how you can get a copy of the presenters' presentation slides, and to see images captured from the event, click here


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Notes to editors:

Midlands Innovation is a collaboration of the region’s most research-intensive universities: Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Leicester, Loughborough, Keele, Nottingham and Warwick.

Midlands Engine works with industry, academic, health sector and public sector partners under the banner of Midlands Engine Heath.

Members of the Place panel session: Rachael Greenwood - Midlands Engine (CHAIR): Simon Collinson - City REDI, Michael Wood - NHS Confederation, Ben Martyn - NHSA, Rachel Tyrrell - Research England and Prof Mike Lewis - University of Birmingham.

Today, the Midlands is home to:

  • the highest number of Medical Technologies companies of any region in the UK (pumping £1.6bn into the UK economy pa)
  • 14% of all UK Life Sciences employment (30,565 jobs)
  • two of the three largest UK NHS Trusts
  • the second largest Clinical Trials cluster in Europe
  • seven leading Medical Schools (producing over 20% of the UK’s medical students)
  • a stable, ethnically diverse population of over 10 million citizens (making it the ideal test bed for global health and multimorbidity interventions)