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Poots and Foster launch report on boosting the economy through health innovation

Health and Social Care is a significant driver for innovation and growth in Northern Ireland, a major new report has found.
Thursday, 16 May 2013

‘The Economy and Jobs Initiative Task and Finish Group’ report was launched last night at Titanic Belfast by Health Minister Edwin Poots and Economy Minister Arlene Foster.

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Whilst the priority for the Health and Social Care (HSC) sector must be improving the health and well-being of the population and improving the quality of care, it is important to stress that the sector plays a very significant part in the local economy. It spends almost £4.5billion annually, provides for 9% of the workforce and generates almost 10% of total economic output. It was important therefore to examine how it might be able to enhance the contribution to the economy that it already makes. This is why we appointed the Task and Finish Group.

“We agree strongly with the report’s conclusion that Health and Social Care should be recognised as having the potential to be a major driver for innovation and economic growth. It has made seven recommendations which will provide a basis for strengthening the important links between health and the economy.”

Economy Minister Arlene Foster said: “Much of the research and innovation taking place in our health sector has vast potential from a commercial perspective. By working in partnership and increasing levels of collaboration between the Health and Life Science sector and academia, we can identify market trends and global opportunities, and develop a clear strategy which will benefit the health and wellbeing of local people and deliver economic benefits.”

The Economy and Jobs Initiative Task and Finish Group was established to identify opportunities to support economic development through the HSC sector in Northern Ireland. The Group was chaired by Brian O’Connor, Chair of the European Connected Health Alliance and has seven other members.

The Group held a series of meetings with representatives from the HSC including the five Trusts and the business and academic sectors. It also held a workshop with a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the emerging proposals.

The final report makes seven recommendations which include: creating a new overarching Health and Life Sciences Strategy to increase levels of innovation and collaboration with Health and Life Sciences private sector and academia; establish a Health Innovation Life Sciences (HILS) Hub to coordinate and drive individual projects and programmes; and establishing a resource dedicated to international collaboration, to build key relationships and identify new funding streams exploring a more novel approach to managing risk.

The report was launched at a dinner at Titanic Belfast hosted by the two Ministers. Attendees included a number of delegates who attended the eHealth Week in Dublin and travelled to Northern Ireland for the event and to participate in the extraordinary ecosystem day at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast today where Mr Poots was due to give a key note address.

Both Ministers are keen to use eHealth Week to highlight how innovation in health can boost prosperity as well as produce better outcomes for patients.

Notes to editors:

1. The Economy and Jobs Initiative Task and Finish Group was established in February 2013 to identify opportunities to support economic development through the Health and Social Care sector in NI. The Group is chaired by Brian O’Connor, Chair of the European Connected Health Alliance, and has seven other members:

a. Joan Cornet, Executive Chair, TicSalut Foundation

b. George Crooks OBE, Medical Director, NHS 24

c. Mark Ennis, Chair, Invest NI; Executive Chair, SSE Renewables

d. Bryan Keating, Chair, Matrix Panel

e. Sinclair Stockman, Executive Director, DigitalNI 2020

f. Dave Whitlinger, Executive Director, New York eHealth Collaborative

g. Louise Wood, Deputy Director/Head of NHS Research Infrastructure and Growth, Department of Health (England)

2. The Group’s report recommends the following:

i.The DHSSPS and DETI should create a new overarching Health and Life Sciences Strategy for NI to increase levels of innovation and commercialisation of intellectual assets, increase collaboration with Health and Life Sciences private sector and academia, identify new ICT trends and incorporate these into a new strategy, and provide strategic direction for Invest NI and key delivery partners;

ii.Establish a Health Innovation Life Sciences (HILS) Hub to coordinate and drive individual projects and programmes coming out of the overall agreed strategy, and to act as a centre for sustainable and effective interaction between the various players in Life and Health Sciences, the private sector, academia and the various economic development agencies

iii.Establish a new Health Innovation Infrastructure based around six key economic attractors:

(a) Dynamic Action Register Online to communicate and connect the many actions and initiatives in NI;

(b) International Health Analytics Centre to involve industry, academia, DHSSPS, DETI and Invest NI;

(c) Smart Connected Residential Community where residents could have use of the latest technologies in health and social care;

(d) Connected Health Integrated Platform to optimise the delivery of our Connected Health platform;

(e) Clinical and Device Trials;

(f) Continued development and exploitation of hard IP such as new drugs and medical devices

iv. Review of existing Public Sector Procurement process to identify new innovative solutions to support key initiatives and the proposed HILS Hub and Health Innovation Infrastructure;

v. Establish a resource dedicated to international collaboration, to build key relationships and identify new funding streams;

vi. Develop strategic partnerships with the Department for Employment and Learning to align future skill-sets of the Health and Social Care sector;

vii. Establish a more flexible approach to managing risk associated with innovation, and exploration of novel approaches to risk management.

3. The Group’s report also recommends that, following approval by the Connected Health and Prosperity Board and Ministers, an expert representative group should be created to monitor and drive forward effective change and identify key future outputs. In addition, it recommends that a scoping study exercise should begin for the proposed Health Innovation Infrastructure.

4. Mr Poots has carried out a number of events connected to eHealth week. Details can be found on the NI Executive website

5. For photographs or for media enquires about this press release contact the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0571. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.