Healthcare Innovation at Harwell

Dr Barbara Ghinelli and Major Tim Peake
(Credit: STFC)

Harwell Campus hosted a dynamic 'Accelerating Healthcare Innovation' event on 21st September 2016, attracting over 250 delegates to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The day started with Tim Peake meeting students and teachers from local schools who all had the opportunity to ask questions relating to his time on the International Space Station. This was followed by a guided tour around the exhibitors who were showcasing their expertise and hardware relating to the life science sector.

“Keeping humans healthy in space is an extraordinary achievement.”
Major Tim Peake

During the conference programme Dr Barbara Ghinelli introduced Major Tim Peake, Sir John Bell, George Freeman MP and Lord Drayson who each shared their views on this exciting sector and each explained how inter-disciplinary collaboration and research is bringing about new discoveries in healthcare. This was followed by an informative question and answer session with a panel chaired by Lord Drayson, comprising the above speakers together with James Noble (Adaptimmune), Gordon Sanghera (Oxford Nanopore), Tim Luker (Eli Lilly) & Sara Wells (MRC Harwell). This highlighted the Campus’s unique capabilities in collaborative research and its expanding role in accelerating healthcare innovation, a field of global significance in addressing key issues including environmental exposure and human diseases, ageing and drug discovery.

Tim Peake has a personal interest in life sciences and during his time on the International Space Station he undertook numerous experiments in space. These have informed many research projects, helping to provide solutions including applications that will aid the detection, prevention and management of different threats to human health. Major Peake said “Keeping humans healthy in space is an extraordinary achievement. This is only possible through collaboration across different disciplines - a winning approach which also works to keep humans healthy on Earth.”

Major Tim Peake with students
(Credit: STFC)

Major Peake also introduced the UK’s Human Spaceflight Capitalisation Office (HUSCO) at Harwell, which was launched by Dr. Simon Evetts at the event. HUSCO will help to harness the endeavours of all UK space activities and assets related to human space flight, with the specific aim of contributing to meeting the Government’s ambition to expand the UK’s share of the space market to £40bn by 2030 and to create over 100,000 new jobs.

Dr Ghinelli, Director of Business Development at Harwell, said “Collaboration at Harwell between key science facilities, academia, the public sector and industry is now feeding the growth of a research and innovation cluster in healthcare that’s set to complement the existing space cluster here on campus, forging a crossover between space, advanced technologies and the life and biomedical sciences.”

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor at the University of Oxford and keynote speaker at the Accelerating Healthcare Innovation event says “The Oxfordshire life science cluster is one of the most successful in the world and we are keen to exploit Harwell’s unique research capabilities in the physical sciences and data analysis to accelerate innovation in this vital field.”

Prof. Nick Veck (SA Catapult), Barbara Ghinelli (STFC), Chris Welsh (ISU), Angus Horner (Campus JV)
(Credit: STFC)

As part of the event, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide a framework for collaboration and cooperation between the International Space University and Harwell Campus was officially signed by representatives of the International Space University, STFC, Harwell Campus and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Delegates networked with exhibitors over lunch, before an invitation was extended to delegates to attend an Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) workshop addressing how the considerable Life Sciences capabilities in Oxfordshire and Harwell, in particular, can be further developed for national benefit. Over 100 of the remaining delegates chose to attend a structured tour of some key facilities at Harwell, including ISIS, the Research Complex at Harwell, RAL Space, Diamond, MRC and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

This event strengthened the Harwell Campus position as a widely recognised centre within Oxfordshire with unique facilities and skills and highlighted the emerging HealthTec Cluster at Harwell that will facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration for healthcare innovation, promoting collaborations between academia, the public sector and Industry.

The conference webcast is available to view at www.stfc.tv username: Harwell password: User2016

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000