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How to deliver North East economic growth through Life Sciences innovation

Dr Peter Simpson, N8 Research Partnership and Life Sciences lead on the North East LEP Innovation Board, and Geoff Davison, Bionow

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) Innovation Board members have been working on a new strategy to grow the North East’s Health and Life Sciences sector.

The North East LEP has identified Life Sciences as an important strategic area of economic activity in the region, and so the LEP Innovation Board’s experts are keen to develop an industry strategy and action plan to foster growth of the Health and Life Sciences sector in the North East. This represents a great opportunity to generate economic returns from more and better jobs if it is embraced by key partners.

The North East is already a great place to do Life Sciences, and a great place to live and work. But we feel there is so much more potential to unlock. Over recent months, we have sought your views on a range of possible priorities that we had scoped to help achieve this. For those of you who filled in our Life Sciences survey, a huge thank you – and congratulations to Julie Wright, Commercial Manager
at Data Trial Limited; winner of our Kindle Fire prize!

This feedback has been incredibly helpful in sharpening the vision and directing the prioritisation of actions. From analysing your feedback, the Life Sciences working group has agreed three key areas for prioritised LEP support and additional opportunities.

Areas we have identified as possible priority opportunities include:

• Fully leveraging nationally important assets and centres – within the region and beyond – to help local companies.
• Enhancing specialist funding opportunities – to ensure that innovative regional companies have access to the funding and support they need to thrive here
• Facilitating strong linkages to academia and other external innovation sources
o Creating the conditions to build a cluster economy in Health in Development & Ageing
o Enhanced Health Grand Challenges Programme

In order to support these priorities, support and grow the business base the team have also been working through ways for the LEP to ensure:
• A long term plan for provision of specialist health and life sciences company accommodation
• Sector-specific specialist skills sector plans
• Effective strategic leadership & coordination for the region
• Promoting the life sciences sector nationally and internationally
• Growth of our distinctive assets and niches
• Improving the Scientific, Technical and Leadership Skills base

The Life Sciences working group and the North East LEP Innovation Board are doing this work as volunteers – because our passion is for the growing the economy of the region together.

So thank you again for your input, and we look forward to sharing with you an update on the LEP response to our proposals shortly.