City appoints new director of healthcare innovation

The University of Manchester’s Professor Jackie Oldham has been appointed by the city in a new role to make Manchester a leading centre for healthcare business and innovation.

In her new role as Director of Health Innovation in Manchester she will report to Manchester City Council, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Science Partnerships, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre and Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network.

Part of the role will be to promote the collective Manchester offering to create a super cluster of global and small to medium sized businesses, co-located with research, infrastructure and expertise within universities and the NHS, to attract investment and take advantage of opportunities available through all levels of local government.

She said: “The vision is to for this city become a globally recognised centre that attracts the best innovators, is a place of discovery and invention and that leads to adoption of new treatments to improve the lives of citizens in Manchester and beyond.”

Dr Conor Mulrooney is Chief Operating Officer of Phagenesis, a company based at Manchester Science Partnerships which develops treatments for dysphagia – a serious condition where people are unable to swallow in a safe or controlled way after brain injury. He described how he welcomed this initiative as a collective approach to health innovation in Manchester could help address some of the challenges small companies face including: fast track assessments of new technologies coming to market and support in building the necessary health economic value arguments to drive their widespread adoption.

He commented, “Manchester has world class healthcare and academic resources with huge potential to support small businesses. The main challenge is to organise access to them in a simple and practical way. This new development is definitely a step in the right direction.”

The new plans for Manchester build on systems already in place in Boston, USA where institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have linked successfully with healthcare and businesses to create one of the world’s leading bio-health innovation centres. Links with Boston build on Professor Oldham’s existing role as Director of Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT), the 1st international affiliate of CIMIT in Boston, USA.

Reflecting on her new role, Professor Oldham said: “We want people in Manchester and further afield to know about our discoveries and to support us in developing, testing and promoting our developments and opportunities.”

“We also want the best companies, innovators and entrepreneurs to be attracted to Manchester to work with our existing talent and to develop new innovations at pace and scale. This is an ambitious plan but by working together we can harness our resources to maximum effect.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is already a hub for medical research, treatment and innovation and where we have existing strengths we are keen to build on them to create something truly globally distinctive.

“We want to make sure Greater Manchester’s devolution deal, and in particular arrangements to integrate health and social care with decisions being taken in the area rather than remotely, provide a platform for further growth.

“I’m confident that this new initiative, and Professor Oldham’s role in it, will contribute towards these goals.”

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