The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Research and Innovation

Supporting healthcare innovations in the UK and beyond

22 June 2021

In this blog Dr Christopher McKee talks about his role in helping to spread and adopt new ingenious healthcare technologies within the NHS and beyond.

I have been working in the healthcare innovation space for the past two years after a five-year stint in the private sector. This was following the completion of my PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. In all honestly, at this point in time with so many exciting opportunities emerging in Leeds, the Counties of Yorkshire and across the whole North of the UK, I cannot see myself wanting to depart from this space anytime soon. I believe we are now entering a golden age of healthcare innovation and so working as part of the wider AHSN team has been a wonderful opportunity for me and a vital asset to my role.

As someone with a scientific background, I have always had a keen interest in continued learning and discovering something new. I feel this is reflected strongly when working within the space of innovation. In its nature, innovation is something that is always changing, evolving, and adapting in parallel with progress and I can certainly attest that there’s hardly ever a dull day working in this field.

Innovation knows no bounds or borders thus my role has taken me to many parts of the world (pre-covid of course) including Israel and Japan with online discussion also taking place with Taiwan, many countries in Europe and innovators in Canada to name a few. More recently, we have engaged with innovators from Norway which Neil Toner, a programme manager for Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, has thoroughly covered in his blog ‘Working with Norway Health Tech to support international collaboration’ so go check this out after reading this!

If I have learnt one thing from these trips and discussions, it’s that innovations come in all shapes and sizes influenced from similar healthcare problems all over the globe. Healthcare is a universal language. The opportunities available often seem overwhelming and inexhaustible! The key is to know what to look for and to match innovators to areas of key unmet needs in your relevant healthcare market. In the UK this of course means the National Health Service (NHS), something I am particularly proud to be a part of.

My role bridges Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust and University of Leeds and having the ability to connect innovators to the right part of the pipeline or even to simply provide them with a UK base working with facilities like NEXUS is something so rarely on offer in the global market. In a nutshell, we are well equipped across the region to match innovators to needs in our healthcare systems in the UK and as I always say to these innovators ‘if you can make it work in the NHS, you can prove its value anywhere in the world’.

It is worth noting that innovation is a very broad term covering a wide range of disciplines, but for our team the goal of innovation is a simple one: to bring new and exciting technologies into the NHS in order to improve quality of care for all patients. It certainly is an ambitious goal with many steps to get there, but one I truly believe we can achieve. Working with the LTHT Research and Innovation team, NEXUS and teams within the University we have managed to secure strong partnerships and pilot agreements with several innovators both nationally and across the globe which. Some examples of these are highlighted below and we’ll be able to share results of these case studies soon.

There’s far too much to say when it comes to innovation and you can certainly expect more focussed blogs and podcasts from myself and the team in the future. For now, I will only mention a few of the great companies I had the pleasure to work with and, as I mentioned, you will hear more in the next few months:

  • Imedis AI– AI for quality assurance of CT imaging in lung and liver scans
  • Betalin – Engineered Micro Pancreas (bio scaffold + Islet cells) as a potential cure for type 1 diabetes
  • Serenus AI – AI-based platform that empowers medical decisions at critical post-diagnostic crossroads on patient pathways, saving lives and valuable resources
  • Scaled Insights – Behavioural AI platform
  • 3D Lifeprints – Medical 3D printing company including digital 3D modelling

Finally, I’d just like to add that my door is always open and I’m always happy to connect and see how we can support your ambitions for innovating within the NHS and the UK.

For any more information please contact Chris.mckee@nhs.net and c.s.mckee@leeds.ac.uk