The most innovative healthtech is happening in the North, says Hancock

Health secretary hails Northern Powerhouse for its "big part" in UK’s success.
By Tammy Lovell
10:21 AM

Rob Stothard/ Stringer, Getty Images

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock praised the North of England for playing “a big part” in the UK’s success as a world leader in pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and digital health.

Speaking at the Health Innovation Conference in Manchester on 25 April, Hancock acknowledged the contribution of the Northern Powerhouse to the NHS.  

With more than $2bn (£16 billion) in investments planned over the next five years, “the North is where some of the most dynamic growth and exciting innovation is going to happen,” he said.

The health secretary highlighted a number of projects including the Great North Care Record, a new digital way of sharing medical information across health and social care providers which started in the North East and Cumbria.

He also mentioned Fujifilm Diosynth in Tees Valley, which invested $7.4 million (£5.7m) this year to develop and manufacture medicines.

“Liverpool and Northumbria are now home to two of Proton Partners International's Rutherford Cancer Centres, with an initial investment of $91 million (£70 million). And Rutherford Diagnostics is creating a $19.5 million (£15 million) diagnostic centre in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter,” he added.

What’s the impact

The North of England now has more MedTech businesses than the "golden triangle" of London, Oxford and Cambridge, Hancock noted.

Also, a fifth of people working in the UK’s life sciences – more than 50,000 jobs - are based in the Northern Powerhouse, he said.

"It's about the North spurring innovation across the country, for the benefit of the entire UK economy," Hancock said.

What’s the context

Hancock pointed out that health inequalities cost the North more than $17 billion (£13 billion) a year.

A major part of the government’s Northern Powerhouse proposal to boost economic growth, involves investment in science, innovation and technology.

Too many decisions had been taken “far away”, and the Northern Powerhouse was about “getting those decisions back to where they should be", Hancock said.

On the record

“Life science expertise across the North is exemplary and collectively is delivering innovation after innovation in ageing, health data (such as the NHSA’s Connected Health Cities programme) diagnostics and digital health,” Nicola Wilson, interim CEO of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), told MobiHealthNews.

“But we must not lose sight of the tangible opportunity to grow the North’s life sciences cluster, worth $17.7 billion (£13.6 billion) annually to the UK’s economy, further.

“The NHSA is calling for government to allocate 20% of its life sciences R&D budget into the North of England and to invest a proportional increase in public health funding,” she said.