Reflecting on VentureFest North East: A manifestation of, and call for, change.
24 May 2023
12 June 2023
The Innovation SuperNetwork has been named as a delivery partner in the newly announced EPSRC-funded NortHFutures hub.
The project aims to create a world-leading healthcare technology (health-tech) research and innovation ecosystem that addresses health and social inequalities in the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) by supporting: inclusive digital skills training and sharing, responsible health-tech design and development, networking and entrepreneurship.
Estelle Blanks, CEO at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “We’re really excited to be one of the partners involved in delivering the ground-breaking £4.17m NortHFutures Digital Health Hub. This pioneering collaboration between our regional universities, NHS Trusts and Integrated Care System will help develop and accelerate responsibly designed and human centred healthcare technologies taking a whole ecosystem approach. Over the last five-years, the Innovation SuperNetwork has worked with our partners to increase innovation capacity in our digital and health tech sectors, and this project will amplify and support our work to help businesses bring sustainable and inclusive digital health & life science innovations to market.”
The Northern Health Futures (NortHFutures) project is in collaboration with five regional universities, and seven NHS Trusts within the Integrated Care System (ICS) for NENC.
This three-year project aims to address unmet health needs in the NENC region, including: health and nutrition for children and young people; mental health and wellbeing; monitoring of people before, during and following treatment beyond the hospital; wider application of virtual and augmented reality in training and delivery of clinical care; and ageing well with long-term conditions.
The Hub combines the complementary strengths and resources of over 50 partners: six universities – Newcastle, Cumbria, Durham; Northumbria, Sunderland, and Teesside; seven NHS Trusts; regional, national and global industry partners; health and care providers; local authorities; innovation accelerators; plus voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector organisations. Through an integrated, regional approach uniting this consortium for the first time, the aspiration is for NortHFutures to establish global leadership in Digital Health.
The NortHFutures hub partners aims to create a supportive community infrastructure, drawing upon world-leading expertise and research excellence in Data Science and Data Analytics, Biomedical Sciences, Nursing and Allied Health, Medical Device Engineering and Diagnostics, Digital Business, and Human-centred Design that involves end users of the innovations.
The team will commission research studies and pioneer networking platforms, services and entrepreneurial environments to engage diverse stakeholders in digital skills training and responsible health-tech projects, stimulating social, economic and cultural growth for all.
NortHFutures is one of five Digital Health Hubs funded across the UK as part of an £16.5 m EPSRC pilot scheme.
Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director of Cross-Council Programmes of EPSRC, said: “The projects and hubs announced today will deliver a variety of innovative approaches to improve healthcare outcomes for patients. This investment will support scientists and engineers who are transforming the way we treat and diagnose diseases by using the latest developments in robotics, computer modelling and imaging.”
The leads for the Digital Health Hub are Professor Abigail Durrant, Co-Director of Open Lab, and EPSRC Centre for Digital Citizens, Newcastle University, and Professor Naeem Soomro, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Co-Director in Robotic & Digital Surgery at The Royal College of Surgeons of England. They said: “We are delighted to be leading one of five EPSRC Digital Health Hubs in the country.
“The NENC region already has a great track record of collaboration on health-tech projects, and for research and innovation centred on understanding and evidencing people’s unmet needs.
“We have been fortunate to partner with the Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP), Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) and Integrated Care Board (ICB) for NENC, plus other great connectors in this space like Innovation SuperNetwork, to build on established networks and knowledge bases.
“Core national partners include Health Data Research (HDR) UK who are leading in Health Data Science, and by collaborating with VCSE, community representatives, and entrepreneurs alongside global tech giants and government agencies, we interconnect truly diverse stakeholders in Digital Health.
“NortHFutures humanises health-tech; equity, participation, and investment in people are core to our vision, for transforming health and care delivery across the region whilst also creating opportunities for: raising digital literacy, career development, knowledge exchange, and the creative realisation and translation of tech innovations for commercial success.
“Through this joined-up endeavour, we aim to better understand how to address health inequalities, and to promote proactive health monitoring, patient-involved care, and positive ageing through responsible design.
“We aim to better connect rural and urban populations through pioneering applications of data science – in health and care delivery, in best professional practice, in analytics and strategic planning – grounded in research evidence.
“Our aspiration is that the Hub will deliver a supportive and diverse community infrastructure that will stimulate social, economic and cultural growth, and will promote wellbeing for all.”
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