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When one plus one equals three!

2 May 2019

Working in partnership can be uniquely demanding and complicated. It requires patience, diplomacy and tenacity. So why do it and how do we assess the benefits? Suzanne Morton, Senior Development Officer, explains why she loves it and how it often harvests more than the sum of its parts.

I work in a partnership role across Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council. I’m also a member of the Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP) team. So pretty much everything I do involves partnerships.

Working for two organisations means I can mine the best from both and be a useful bridge between them – extending this network and these insights to the LAHP. But the benefits are often hard won.

I might be dealing with several teams, each with different reporting lines within two, huge organisations, so it doesn’t always seem like just one job.

So why do I do it and what does success look like?

Currently the main focus of my work in Leeds is on EU Horizon 2020 projects. EU Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). It is also seen as ‘a means to drive economic growth and create jobs’.

It emphasises ‘excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges’ and its goal is to remove barriers to innovation and make it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. So it aligns closely with our local priorities and ambitions to be a compassionate city with a strong economy.

Leeds is a one of nine European deployment sites on the Horizon 2020 ACTIVAGE project. This aims to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to encourage active and healthy ageing, and works with people aged 65 and over to trial commercial products to this end.

Another H2020 project, MONICA, also deploys IoT solutions, but in this case aimed at improving crowd safety and security at large scale events, with Leeds’ Emerald Headingley Stadium being one of six European sites to trial the innovations.

Both projects offer exciting benefits for our city. For example, through ACTIVAGE, more than 300 older people will receive and learn to use smart phones, with the intention of better managing their own health and wellbeing and communicating with people involved in their care.

MONICA’s brand new technology could make open air events not only safer but also more accessible, through use of state of the art technology to monitor and manage crowds.

Both projects align with the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board shared ambition for Leeds to be the best city for health and wellbeing. Supporting this, LAHP partners together aim to:

• improve the quality, efficiency and sustainability of health and care services

• drive economic growth that improves skills, jobs and wealth for everyone.

• narrow the gap in the health and wellbeing between people in deprived and those in more affluent communities.

four gears in hands on a sunset background. teamwork.

But these projects only succeed when the right, diverse range of partners are involved.

To illustrate with an example, ACTIVAGE brings together in the Leeds site a world-leading blue chip technology company – Samsung – with the City Council, to help understand the needs of Leeds’ citizens.

It also involves third sector partners such as Carers Leeds and Age UK Leeds, each of whom can share their knowledge and influence the direction of the project, as well as future business propositions and market offerings.

It is not enough to know what is technologically possible or what people want, it is the work together that leads to life-changing outcomes and solutions, and crucially ones that work for the people they are designed for.

And of course this is exactly the business of the LAHP, where we have world-class expertise at our fingertips. We harness this to transform ideas into life-changing realities so people in all Leeds’ communities – and those beyond – can live healthier lives for longer.

Ants carrying an apple against a white background. Very high resolution 3D render.

Organisational affiliation is secondary to finding the best solution, and I think Leeds is exemplary in this. Maybe it’s that Yorkshire friendliness we trade in! Either way I see partnership working as crucial to getting the best for people of Leeds and beyond, and am grateful I get to experience this on a daily basis.

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