The Liverpool City Region has a long and fruitful history as an innovation forerunner in the health and life sciences sector; from paving the way in modern sanitation to the founding of Alder Hey, one of Europe’s busiest children’s hospitals, our City Region is a hotbed of innovation and creativity that changes the lives of people the world over.
Today, the beating heart of the life sciences sector lies in the Knowledge Quarter, which is home to the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. However, this prowess stretches far beyond this geographical area, with a strong cluster of NHS trusts, key business enablers and business leaders with an eye for innovation all over the Liverpool City Region, all of whom contribute to our well-deserved reputation as a global leader in health and life sciences.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic perfectly demonstrated the strength of collaboration within the sector, albeit on a global scale. Within the LCR, insights have shown that collaboration is key to innovation; however, there are some key barriers that limit businesses in spearheading change.
Factors such as the huge diversity within the sector, access to key people in the system and access to funding (both for early-stage development and system transformation) all hinder the healthcare ecosystem as it attempts whole system change. Essentially, collaboration is at the heart of the issue: collaboration is crucial in breaking down barriers to entry, within the sector itself as well as with those outside. Collaboration ensures that innovators have an acute understanding of the problem at hand, enabling them to effect pioneering change, rather than providing a ‘solution’ to an issue that they haven’t fully grasped.
Fortunately, there has never been a better time, or a bigger appetite, to overcome these challenges. The pandemic allowed innovation, and the adoption of innovation, to speed up, while demonstrating the vital importance of the health and life sciences sector. Since 2020, the Liverpool City Region has seen increased investment to stimulate innovation within this sector; LCR Health Matters, a Liverpool-based health-tech business support programme, helped to raise over £21 million to support life science businesses across the region. The iiCON Consortium, which brings together industry, academia and the NHS and is led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, was founded in 2020 to accelerate infection innovation; every year, LSTM invest £2bn in collaborative research and development to this end.
The Liverpool City Region recognises that the scale of the challenges facing the health and life sciences sector cannot be overcome alone; this is why there is a strong ecosystem of business support and enablers which can support innovators through this process. Growth Platform provides business with support, advice, funding opportunities and connections to a wider network of business and thought leaders. Programmes such as LCR Health Matters supports local businesses to access the health and care markets; Civic Data Cooperative are changing the way we use data for health, and providing a much needed open space for public sector leaders, frontline workers and innovators to connect and collaborate. Bionow and Medilink are both membership organisations to for businesses in the sector, while The Innovation Agency support businesses to understand the needs of local trusts and the wider NHS.
Simply put, the ecosystem, history and networks of the Liverpool City Region makes it one of the best places to innovate and grow a business in this sector. By accessing the opportunities on offer and tapping into the appetite for collaboration in the wake of the pandemic, businesses have the chance to make waves in the health and life sciences sector, not just in the city region, but all over the world.