Proud of our great strides ahead despite a challenging year
21 October 2021
Dr Liz Mear, Managing Director, Leeds Academic Health Partnership
As I leave my Managing Director role at Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP) and prepare for semi-retirement, I’ve been reflecting on how we’ve taken our work forward over the last year, despite the challenges and restrictions during the pandemic.
I arrived in the middle of the COVID crisis, with the team working remotely and with some staff members deployed to help with the city and regional COVID-related work.
Health inequalities and the need to accelerate economic growth were two key issues exacerbated by the pandemic, so tackling them had taken on a new urgency.
Our healthtech work has been central to this, having the potential to help address both of these issues.
To capitalise on the significant global growth potential in the healthtech sector, our team had already done great work with our regional partners to explore how to maximise our region’s extensive healthtech assets. It was time to take this forward and establish a regional healthtech programme.
Our recently launched Healthtech Catalyst now complements a range of new partner initiatives and we are delighted to have had West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin’s support.
Together with partners, we are creating a dynamic ecosystem for the sector, from innovation discovery to new product deployment.
By supporting healthtech innovators and entrepreneurs, we are helping grow businesses, attract new ones and accelerate sector growth in our region. After years of austerity, this economic boost, creating good new jobs for local people, is needed more than ever.
As particularly demonstrated throughout the pandemic, health technologies also transform care and can even save lives. With our partners’ insights, we can understand what residents and clinicians actually need so we can match those needs to industry innovations in our pipeline.
All of this is starting to fulfil the commitments of our region’s first, cross-sector healthtech partnership.
In our other work, our Insights Catalyst is on the starting blocks to support emerging partner initiatives, potentially working alongside the new Leeds Office for Data Analytics (LODA) to engage our population in how we can best use their data to help improve their health and care.
With this, and with our Personalised Health Catalyst, we are prioritising engaging with people who experience the greatest inequalities and we aim to capture insights that will help our partners improve healthcare for generations to come.
Growing the team
To make sure that the HealthTech Catalyst achieves its aims, our partners have allocated funding to new roles.
We now have a Clinical Director, Innovation Adoption Specialist and Embedded Researcher, and we’ve expanded our communications team to better publicise the support we’re offering. Since the Healthtech Catalyst went live, our hard-working and experienced team have supported 60 companies to take the next step on their growth journey.
Growing our memberships
We are extremely privileged to have Tom Riordan, OBE, as our Chair. Under Tom’s leadership we’ve expanded the membership of our Board so that we are now one of the most diverse partnerships of our kind in the country
We’re a partner of the biggest entrepreneurial scheme in the world – the NHS National Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. This will help us to support our local innovators (clinical and non-clinical) and we’re starting to develop a strong pipeline of innovators from our region to be selected for the programme.
We’ve become members of the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHA) and the Association of British Healthtech Industries’ (ABHI) UK Healthcare Pavilion .
Through these channels we can support businesses to export and we can publicise our region as a first choice location for digital and medtech companies.
We’re an active member of Health Service Research UK (HSRUK) working alongside world-class researchers and shaping the agenda for health and care research in the UK and beyond.
Collaboration is key
At the heart of our current and future success is good collaboration. It’s what the LAHP does and does so well.
A month before my retirement I found myself presenting, with colleagues and partners, to the national Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW) about why the LAHP should win their national public sector collaborative award. It was a lovely surprise to be shortlisted for our partnership work in establishing the HealthTech Catalyst.
As I prepare to step down, I’m proud to be leaving the team and the Partnership in such a strong position.
None of this work is easy and there is still so much more hard work ahead to help transform health and care for local people. With thanks to the many colleagues and partners for their support and commitment to the LAHP, I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing how this important work goes from strength to strength.
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