Leeds’ digital and data powerhouse accelerating health innovation – part two
3 October 2023

Leeds’ digital and data powerhouse accelerating health innovation – part two

Following our first feature on The Leeds Digital Festival (LDF) where we looked at why Leeds?, we now take a deep dive into the Festival programme and shine the spotlight on one of the sessions from the Health and Medtech stream – ‘Accelerating Digital Innovations across the NHS’.
Leeds’ digital and data powerhouse accelerating health innovation

Hosted on 28 September by our partner Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the session featured the latest digital healthtech applications arising from the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.

Here, we look in more detail at insights from the session including why and how Leeds has become the epicentre for healthtech innovation in the UK.

Health innovation showcase

The entrepreneurs showcased a range of exciting digital and healthtech innovations as part of the recent session at the renowned Festival. Already collaborating with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the innovators demonstrated:

  • Vinehealth® an app designed to support people living with cancer to better self-manage their care through the use of behavioural science principles and digital technology.
  • Concentric Health, a clinically-led digital consent tool which integrates with electronic health records.
    Through the event, attendees were also able to hear about the latest innovations being explored with the Trust from:
  • Deep Medical, which uses artificial intelligence to understand human behaviour, create efficient services, and challenge health inequality.
  • Lister, a digital platform designed by clinicians, for clinicians to help organise and manage their clinical tasks.
  • CardMedic, a health literacy app and website making patient communication in healthcare more accessible, reducing health inequalities.
  • MediTask, a platform to connect medical students with junior doctors to achieve clinical skill competencies, whilst aiding junior doctors’ workloads.
  • Medishout, a one-stop app for hospital staff to report and resolve any operational issue, and
  • RAIQC, (the Report and Image Quality Control Tool) a cloud-based radiology image viewer and reporting simulator to improve medical image reporting skills in a secure, anonymised web-based environment.

Attracting and nurturing healthcare innovators

The LDF session highlighted Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s role in evaluating clinical entrepreneurship within the NHS, specifically the National Clinical Entrepreneur Programme (CEP).  The Trust is one of 10 places doing this as part of the NHS England InSites Programme.

The CEP was founded in 2016 to support those working in the NHS to also pursue entrepreneurial endeavours. Within its first five years, it has helped create 327 life science start-ups and raised over £390 million in funding. It has recruited more than 500 clinical entrepreneurs and their innovations have benefited more than 30 million people.

Professor Tony Young OBE, National Clinical Lead for innovation at NHS England explains: “It is truly amazing what can happen when you empower the NHS’ most valuable asset: its staff, and encourage them to push beyond the bounds of possibility.”

Leeds now plays a key role in the CEP’s implementation and success through Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Innovation Pop Up.  Launched in 2021, the Innovation Pop Up is now home to a growing community of high-tech start-ups led by clinicians and entrepreneurs focused on advancing healthcare.

Inspiring data-driven digital hospitals in Leeds

The Innovation Pop Up (which is also part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme and commitment to build 40 hospitals before 2030)  has worked with 150 companies across 15 countries. The Pop Up is the first of its kind in the North of England and is the first phase in establishing an Innovation Village on the new hospitals site. It provides a valuable test-bed for innovations before they are adopted within the new hospitals.

Chief Scientific Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Professor David Brettle recently explained what the future holds for the Innovation Pop Up:“As it stands, the physical Innovation Pop Up is only a temporary solution. One day, it will ‘pop-down’ again. Its job will be done when we open the doors to our new data-driven, digital hospitals and our fully trained staff are using the latest technologies to deliver outstanding healthcare to the people of Leeds, Yorkshire and beyond, all the while flourishing in a culture of innovation at the heart of the Leeds Innovation Arc.”

In a recent film on the work of the Innovation Pop Up and the power of technology in transforming patient care, Dr Will Bolton, Trainee Neurosurgeon at LTHT explained more. It provides a “front door to the NHS for innovation and technology” and that “Leeds is an excellent ecosystem for developing, deploying and evaluating new technology and innovation in healthcare.”

In another milestone for the city’s Innovation Arc, the Festival also saw the opening of the Centre for Laboratory Medicine at St James’s University Hospital Leeds, by Health Minister Will Quince.

The £35 million facility is the latest step in the roll-out of wider development of the Innovation Village incorporating a new hospital at Leeds General Infirmary – all key parts of the city’s Innovation Arc.

The new laboratory will drive innovation and improvements in diagnostic testing for people across the region and will also become home to selected pathology services from Mid-Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust as part of a wider regional transformation programme.

Kate Lodge, Partnership Director at Leeds Academic Health Partnership, attended the Centre’s opening event and reflects on what the new facility means for Leeds:

“Once operational, the cutting-edge facilities, systems and collaborative ways of  working will enable faster, evidence-based decision making with greater coordination improving care.

“It’s exciting to see this next step towards creating the Innovation Village, that will help strengthen Leeds as a world-class hub for research, innovation and technology.”

A centre of excellence and innovation in healthcare

Alongside the Innovation Pop Up, Leeds is also home to Nexus, sponsor of the Leeds Digital Festival this year and a vibrant, global community of innovators and entrepreneurs based at its state-of-the-art innovation hub on the University of Leeds campus.

Nexus hosted several events at the Festival including one in partnership with Propel@YH, a digital health accelerator delivered by Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network. The event brought together innovative healthcare start-ups from across the world, sharing solutions on how to solve real world challenges in healthtech, medtech and femtech.

Nexus provides the link for its member businesses to connect with the research, talent and facilities across the University and with partners across the Leeds innovation ecosystem.

Dame Linda Pollard, Chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, in a feature on the power of the Leeds City Region, explains how Nexus supports the region’s position on the global stage:

“We’re creating a world leading hub with the Leeds Innovation Partnership. It draws much of its inspiration from the brilliant academic talent at the University of Leeds and the success of the Nexus business community, which has proved just how much can be done by working in collaboration.”

Transforming healthcare through innovation

Leeds continues to raise the bar globally for health innovation. As well as performing the world’s first double hand transplant and Europe’s first pulmonary heart valve implant, other recent groundbreaking innovations include:

Leeds Digital Festival 2023’s healthtech and medtech events have showcased just some of the exciting digital innovations within the city’s health and care ecosystem and we’re proud that our partners are at the forefront of this.

“We’re creating a world leading hub with the Leeds Innovation Partnership. It draws much of its inspiration from the brilliant academic talent at the University of Leeds and the success of the Nexus business community, which has proved just how much can be done by working in collaboration.”
Dame Linda Pollard