It’s hard to believe that seven months have passed since lockdown hit. The City Region has come together to help and support each other to find solutions to problems it has never faced before, and quite frankly, never even anticipated it would have to face.
Business has been hit hard by the pandemic, but it’s fair to say that the Health and Life Sciences sector has been impacted in several different ways. There have been significant demands on the health and care sector, with non-COVID research being put on hold. Companies have had to adapt their products/services to meet the current crisis alongside others coming up with completely new innovations and ideas. Finally, we have also seen an increase in jobs, growth and investment in businesses within the sector.
Digital health technologies such as remote monitoring and telehealth have become an integral part of the health and care system alongside IT solutions such as Microsoft Teams. There is work going on currently via The Innovation Agency and The Cheshire and Merseyside Healthcare Partnership to ensure that these innovations don’t disappear post COVID-19, and instead we continue with the rapid pace of adoption and scale that we’ve seen as a result.
It’s believed that technology will support the health and care system in its recovery phase too, as it works through the waiting list for elective surgeries and routine appointments. Luckily for Liverpool City Region, it has a great cluster of digital health companies that are working tirelessly to support in this space, including the Health Matters Programme that is connecting the system’s needs with the business ecosystem. Check out our most recent Health Matters case study here.
Tackling vaccine trials
Businesses in the Life Sciences sector have been working on diagnostics and testing with great success and this has led to collaboration, growth, expansion, and investment.
Ascension Q are digitising clinical trials with their new software which is being used within Liverpool City Region to support the wide range of local trials, in partnership with Liverpool Health Partners & Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. BioGrad, based in Liverpool Science Park, are also expanding and growing their workforce due to the demand for their 24-hour COVID-19 testing offer.
Accelerating cross-sector collaboration
What’s incredibly exciting is that Liverpool is also starting to see the beginnings of cross sector working and cluster working due to ‘Project Defend.’
Project Defend describes the need for an integrated approach to protect against economic and health vulnerabilities by assuring the UK’s resilience and self-sustainability of critical production and supplies in the face of COVID-19. The two main areas of focus currently for this group are PPE Manufacture and Infectious Diseases – vaccines, digitisation to support manufacturing and the distribution of vaccines. As a group, it will be raising the profile of businesses already working across these two areas or coming up with new innovative ideas/solutions to support the sector as a result of COVID-19 and the impending EU exit deadline.
As further testament to the city region’s collaborative work, we’ve also seen two innovative partnerships between health tech businesses and the NHS in Liverpool as winners at this year’s NHS in the North Excellence in Supply Awards.
Funding the future
The past few months have also seen the awarding of the first round of Steve Rotherham’s £3m Future Innovation Fund to support businesses in the region to adapt and innovate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 14 local SMEs who were successful in round one, six of these were Health and Life Science related projects/innovations.
As the Health Matters programme is a key avenue of support, many of the businesses who were awarded with the funding are now engaged with the programme and seeing the benefits of its support.
It has been clear that businesses and people alike have stepped up to the mark in offering their expertise in the true collaborative fashion of the Liverpool City Region. Not only that, but business support programmes are coming together with funding opportunities and cross sector working, creating a real buzz across the business base.