Greater Manchester health and care partners, in collaboration with academia and industry, today (16 March 2023) announce the launch of a new multi-million pound health innovation accelerator focused on rapidly improving the diagnosis and treatment of disease across the 2.8m GM population.
Government is investing £100 million to accelerate the growth of three high-potential innovation clusters, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, and the West Midlands. This investment will ensure they become major, globally competitive, centres for research and innovation.
As part of a two-year programme, Greater Manchester will launch innovative projects in sectors where it has existing research strengths, including advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), diagnostics, and net zero.
The health innovation accelerator will focus on tackling some of the most challenging disease areas through early diagnosis using novel approaches and holistic treatment aligned to people’s specific needs. It is hoped this will help to save more lives and improve health outcomes for people at high risk or living in the most disadvantaged communities.
The health accelerator will focus on enhanced diagnostics and genomics, delivered through a partnership between Health Innovation Manchester, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Manchester.
Further significant investment has also been leveraged through partnerships with businesses in life sciences, digital and creative industries, which is a testament to the strength of Greater Manchester’s partnerships with industry.
The following projects will be funded as part of the GM health accelerator programme:
1. Liver disease – Building on the existing ID LIVER research project to find and treat liver disease in patients much earlier.
2. Heart failure – Developing a new approach for finding more people at risk of heart failure, focusing on communities most in need.
3. Lung cancer screening – Building on the well-established Lung Health Checks programme to develop digital approaches for more targeted screening and community outreach.
4. Chest pain – Working with the North West Ambulance Service to develop diagnostic tools to be used by paramedics before patients reach hospital.
5. Community diagnostics – Deploying proven point of care tests and diagnostic tools to improve the identification of people at risk of lung disease, heart disease, and other cardiometabolic conditions, focused on underserved communities.
Each project will be underpinned by a shared ethos to reduce inequalities, forge new relationships with communities, and drive productivity through innovative collaborations with business and industry, as well building on assets already in existence within the GM system.
Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “The health innovation accelerator programme will develop a step-change in the development and deployment of novel diagnostics in GM, targeted towards the needs of local people. It will add value to academic research and sector strengths and leverage existing data assets to transform patient care, unlock new market opportunities for businesses, and strengthen GM’s position as a world-leading centre for health innovation.”
Professor Jane Eddleston, Group Medical Director for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Delivering earlier and more accurate detection, diagnosis, and prognosis, through collaboration, is key to tackling the health inequalities across Greater Manchester. Through our clinical research excellence and joint working with our city-region health innovation accelerator colleagues and strategic global corporate partners we will be able to identify the most prevalent issues affecting our communities and develop targeted patient-centred care and treatment.”
Professor Graham Lord, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at The University of Manchester, said: “We are delighted that our city region has been recognised as a powerhouse for healthcare and life sciences innovation and proud of The University of Manchester’s part in this success. The innovation accelerator programme has great potential to transform healthcare for the better in our region and more generally.”
In addition, a programme to develop a pipeline of new genomic technologies will be established, in collaboration with the University of Manchester. The Development and Validation of Technology for Time Critical Genomic Testing (DEVOTE) Programme will bring together academic, industry and clinical partners from across the region to deliver enhanced genomic diagnostics to prevent stroke; rapid genetic point of care devices to detect genetic changes; and the development of ‘pharmacogenetic passport’ to optimise precision medicines for patients.
Bill Newman, Professor of Translational Genomic Medicine at UoM, Consultant in Genomic Medicine at MFT, and a researcher with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester BRC, said: “This is a great opportunity to enhance GM’s status as a world leader in creating genetic tests that can give rapid results in minutes. We expect that the DEVOTE projects will lead to the adoption of new tests by the NHS to make drug prescription safer and more effective. This will be good for patients and good for GM by creating jobs and a centre for investment in this cutting-edge science.”
Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester’s Economy Lead, said: “The Innovation Accelerator programme is a tremendous vote of confidence in the world-leading research that goes on across Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem.
“Rebalancing R&D spending is an important element of levelling up our national economy. Providing funding and support for regional innovation ecosystems will lead to higher levels of private sector investment, creating high-quality jobs and stimulating economic growth.”