Minister learns about collaboration between academia and industry


Innovative partnerships between the University of Leeds and key medical technologies companies were highlighted at ministerial level.

New Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands hosted a round table discussion about the Government’s strategy for life sciences across the UK, as part of a visit by Minister for Universities and Science, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP.

They were joined by key business leaders and representatives from the region’s medical technologies sector, as well as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fisher CBE, a world leading researcher in medical engineering, who chaired the discussion.

In late 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a ten-year Strategy for UK Life Sciences to support collaboration between academia and industry, improve the business environment for the sector and ensure sufficient numbers of appropriately skilled employees.

Reviewing the strategy’s progress a year on, Mr Cameron described the life science industry as “truly a jewel in the crown of our economy”, citing the UK’s 380 pharmaceutical companies employing almost 70,000 people with an annual turnover of £30 billion. The medical technologies and medical biotechnology sectors employ a further 96,000, with a combined turnover of £20 billion.

Mr Willetts said: “Leeds is a vibrant location for the medical technologies industry and the University is playing a vital role in supporting and developing the life sciences sector.

“I’ve seen remarkable examples of innovative solutions to complex medical problems today which are not only helping to benefit people’s health and improve their quality of life, but also keeping the UK at the front of the global technology race.”

Following the round table discussion at the University, Sir Alan Langlands, who formally takes up his post as Vice-Chancellor next Tuesday, said:

“It has been a pleasure to welcome the Minister for Universities and Science to the University to discuss opportunities to grow innovation and enterprise in the medical technologies sector – a key aspect of the UK life sciences base.

“Unlocking some of these opportunities will be key to the future competitiveness of the UK.”

Dr Ceri Williams, Director of Operations at the University of Leeds’ Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre, added:

“The University of Leeds has world-leading capabilities and facilities, as well as the innovation infrastructure to help medical technologies companies access knowledge and intellectual property for the development of new products to grow this important sector in the UK.”

The round table discussions at the University of Leeds touched on how the UK can improve its global competitiveness in the medical technologies sector – specifically equipping graduates and post graduates with the right mix of skills; providing the best environment to support innovation and wealth creation, and strengthening collaboration between academia, industry  and the NHS.

As part of Mr Willetts’ visit to the Leeds region, he saw for himself the progress being made to further these aims, confirming £4.35m of Regional Growth Fund investment at DePuy Synthes’ Beeston facility. The orthopaedic equipment specialist has had a successful strategic technology partnership with the University since 2000.

Mr Willetts said: “The significant regional growth funding awarded to DePuy Synthes will help to create 20 new jobs and keep over 450 in Beeston, supporting growth in the local economy and reflecting the Government’s commitment to life sciences as part of the Industrial Strategy.”

The Minister also paid a visit to Brandon Medical, an award-winning medical equipment specialists based in Morley.

Other participants in the round table discussion were: 

• Dr Michael Barker, Worldwide Vice President for Research and Development at DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction.

• Graham Bowland, CEO, Surgical Innovations Group plc

• Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive, Association of British Healthcare Industries

• Graeme Hall, MD, Brandon Medical

• Dr Roland Henney, Operations Director, Xiros

• Frank Hester, CEO, TPP

• Professor Graham Isaac, Distinguished Engineering Fellow – Hips, De Puy Synthes Joint Reconstruction R&D

• Dr Tim Morley, Senior Director Preclinical Research, Smith & Nephew

• Dr Gary Sheard, CEO, RSL Steeper

Further information

Please contact Gareth Dant, Press Officer, University of Leeds, on +44 (0)113 343 3996 or email

Image: From left to right: Sir Alan Langlands, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP and Professor John Fisher