New Digital Health Hub launches in South West England

A consortium of universities from across the South West of England and Wales have come together to form a brand new Digital Health Hub which will elevate the region’s digital health capability through leadership, engagement, acceleration and partnership (LEAP).

The new Digital Health Hub has launched to catalyse innovation, research, and collaboration in the South West of England and Wales and brings together five leading regional universities, including the University of BristolUniversity of Bath, the University of the West of England (UWE)Cardiff University, and the University of Exeter (including NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula [PenARC]), along with Health Data Research UK (HDR UK). LEAP aims to build on the strengths of each of the Hub’s institutional partners to offer unique opportunities for training, research, and partnership in digital health.

Alongside the core institutional partners, LEAP’s partnership network extends to 21 supporting companies nationally, seven NHS Trusts & Health Boards, four social care organisations, five Local Authorities, Health Innovation West of England, and the award-winning business incubator SETsquared. The Hub’s objectives have been co-produced by its partner network – surfacing unmet health and care needs, shaping and nurturing new collaborative research projects that bring together new partnerships of industry, academia, patients, carers and healthcare professionals. By engaging with local communities, the region’s health and social care organisations, and with industry partners nationally, LEAP aims to lead and shape the international agenda in digital health.

Over three years, the Hub will deliver a unique portfolio of training as part of its Skills and Knowledge Programme, leveraging the expertise from LEAP’s university partners, including the UK’s only Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Health and Care at the University of Bristol.

Alongside the Hub’s Skills and Knowledge Programme, the LEAP’s Research and Fellowship Programmes will pilot new mechanisms for doing research and will develop future leaders. The Hub will be funding collaborative pilot research projects and fellowship schemes through a number of calls over the next three years. The first calls are due to be announced on the Hub’s website in Spring 2024.

LEAP’s Director, Professor Ian Craddock based at Bristol’s School of Engineering Mathematics and Technology, commented:

“The Hub and our partners see this as a unique opportunity to make a step change in the field of digital health, bringing together and funding new relationships across academia, industry, health and social care”.

Alex Leach, Deputy Director of Programmes at Health Innovation West of England, commented:

“Health Innovation West of England are excited to be working with the LEAP Hub. Digital technologies are already transforming the way our health and care systems can deliver better and fairer health outcomes for our communities. Emerging technologies in this space offer a real opportunity to support the health service of the future and we are pleased to partner with the LEAP team to expedite this work.”