An innovation development scheme run by a partnership of six Leeds City Region universities is cementing Yorkshire as a place for medtech innovation.

Translate – a partnership of the universities of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds Beckett, York and  Sheffield Hallam – is a unique regional collaboration that works to improve health and wealth by translating early-stage ideas into new medical technologies.

Sector-specific Technology Innovation Managers work across the university partners, complementing the work of technology transfer offices, to bring together multidisciplinary collaborative project teams; conduct early stage opportunity validation and de-risking; provide market opportunity assessments and NHS market insights; and identify external funding.

The University of Leeds has a long-standing reputation of successful collaboration in medtech. The Translate programme builds on a tried and tested approach to medtech innovation developed over many years through the Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC). The IKC has an impressive track record of driving and supporting innovation, generating 45 patents and six spinouts, and advancing 84 technologies to commercialisation at TRL5+, leveraging new private sector investment of around £150m to support commercial product developments.

The University of Leeds has a long-standing reputation of successful collaboration in medtech.

The Translate programme has provided researchers at partner universities with access to a model for successful innovation, innovation training and development, and collaboration within the higher education sector, industry and healthcare settings.

Translate has become an important part of the innovation process for academic-led and academic-supported medtech in the Leeds City Region. Focusing on capability building, the development of early stage ideas, and early stage de-risking, it has provided essential translational skills, and a pipeline of early stage projects. In total, we have identified a portfolio of 123 medical technology opportunities across partner universities. Key to our success has been co-ordination and collaboration at a regional level. Maintaining an overview of industrial and healthcare partners, projects and regional activity has enabled effective connections, bringing together the right people to accelerate medical technology innovations.

Translate has generated a step-change in levels of collaboration with industry and healthcare creating a community of around 200 medtech academics, many actively collaborating with each other for the first time. Connecting academics with companies, clinicians and patients has been a key element of the programme’s strategy to de-risk technology innovations at an early stage. More than 95 clinicians and over 110 companies have participated in the programme’s projects and workshops.

These networks, and the events that underpin them, are starting to produce tangible outcomes. We have supported a total of 46 funding applications, and secured £12.18M of additional public sector funding.

Translate was funded by HEFCE (now Office for Students) to 2018, and is now being funded by partner HEIs until the end of 2020, with Sheffield Hallam University – a national leader in creating innovative and real-world solutions for tackling today’s health and wellbeing challenges – joining the consortium.