Life sciences and the West Midlands

Life sciences and the West Midlands

Director Research & Innovation Services at University of Birmingham & CEO Alta Innovations tracks the growth of the regions Life Sciences sector.

With around 14,000 Life Science jobs, the West Midlands has a much stronger track record in this sector than many people realise. Large clusters such as the Edgbaston Medical Quarter have been growing steadily since the 1930’s.  This growth isn’t an accident – when the original architect planned and built the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1933 next door to the University of Birmingham Medical School, he said that "Modern hospital and medical practice demands there shall be organic and integral connection between the scientist and the clinician for the most efficient treatment of the patient." 

Over the years, this far-sighted integration of scientific and clinical research with patient care has received investment of many billions of pounds in both research and health funding.  As a result, Edgbaston is now one of the leading places in the world where clinicians and companies can translate their latest research directly into improved outcomes for patients. 

This model for economic growth - where local vision and close working between different innovation partners such as universities, health trusts and companies leads to the long-term attraction of funds for research, its translation into commercial opportunities and the creation of a highly successful ecosystem – is well recognised by UK and EU governments.  It is behind a new national UK drive to identify and validate similar areas of potential global competitive advantage across the UK.

These “Science & Innovation Audits” will be used to demonstrate how investment in science and innovation leads to local productivity.  They will also provide an evidence base for strategic decision making on local innovation priorities and to strengthen future bids for local investment. 

Healthcare, life sciences and translational medicine have been successfully positioned as one of the six themes chosen to be audited in the Midlands.  In an era of increasing competition for public funding it’s up to all of us to work together and provide the hard evidence that makes our case on the national stage.