Last week the Northern Health Science Alliance celebrated five years since the Chief Executives of eight teaching hospitals, Deans of Eight Medical Schools and CEOs/ MDs of the four Northern AHSNs agreed to establish the NHSA. I wondered if they imagined that in only a few years since formally establishing the NHSA as a company in 2013 that they would have the ability to unite a £17bn health science economy that employs over 570,000 people?
I wonder if they could have ever pictured a successful day of activity in London with two health ministers, not only endorsing the organisation but challenging it to be bold in delivering its vision for an internationally leading clinical research cluster?
Our celebrations last week highlighted what can be achieved when people and organisations believe in collaboration and deliver an agenda for the greater good. You can see a summary video of our achievements here.
The North has worked together to deliver the Northern Health Science Alliance agenda through people and leadership. The founding NHSA members who demonstrated leadership within each of their respective organisations and ensured that the vision for the NHSA was shared within and across organisations, allowing staff from NHS Trust R&D offices, University TTOs, research facilities and NIHR/Wellcome/ MRC funded institutes to engage with and benefit from the NHSA opportunity.
The NHSA has been able to operate with a lean, yet clearly structured governance model, allowing its team to work at pace whilst receiving insight and oversight from the most senior individuals in the alliance.
This governance structure has put in place a private-sector model of working that can be recognised and understood by the life science and technology companies we work with. What’s more, the addition of three non-executive directors to the Board in January 2016 has further built the commercial input into the NHSA decision making processes and how we are viewed externally by our partner organisations.
This year alone, we have achieved a lot, we have appointed our Non-Executives, recruited the full NHSA team, secured the £20m investment in Connected Health Cities, delivered a day of action and the IPPR Report ‘Health Innovation: Breathing Life into the Northern Powerhouse’ as well as delivering value across our NHSA members from bringing in new R&D investments to supporting the establishment of pan-regional partnerships for clinical research.
The first five years have both delivered a hearts and mind campaign for the North as a recognised health science cluster as well as delivered real return on investment for the NHSA founders, however there is still so much more we can do. We need to make sure this new sense of identity and collaboration is harnessed to deliver a transformative impact on the North.
The ‘Health Innovation: Breathing Life into the Northern Powerhouse’ IPPR report showed the UK’s private sector investment in the North’s health and life science research is 20% whereas government investment is nearer 7%.
If we are to have a meaningful impact on the North the NHSA collectively needs to make the case that the UK government needs to follow the market focus and put a greater proportion of health research investment into the North of England.
The opportunity here is not just the North, but the whole of the UK. A stronger health science cluster in the North means a stronger UK life and health science sector, one that can work collaboratively to deliver a health and wealth agenda in a new post-Brexit economy.
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