National award for transforming data into knowledge


A collaboration between Leeds-based The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) and the University of Leeds has won a national Research Council UK impact award from Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency.

The collaboration was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a government initiative through which recent graduates are given the opportunity to help businesses access knowledge and expertise in universities.

The University of Leeds was awarded the “RCUK Knowledge Base Impact” award, which recognises the Research Council-funded partnership that has delivered the most outstanding academic impact.

The partnership developed “ResearchOne”, an electronic health records research database. It includes ethically approved, non-identifiable data from opted-in electronic patient records held in TPP’s “SystmOne”, a clinical computer system used by many healthcare professionals across the UK.

It has the potential to be one of the largest healthcare databases in the world and to contain over 35 million records, drawn from GPs, child health, community units, palliative care, Out-Of-Hours and Accident & Emergency departments.

Samantha Crossfield, a postgraduate, was embedded in both organisations as the Knowledge Transfer Associate to project manage the deliveries of the partnership.

Identifying how the partnership could deliver a novel database for research, she said: “The ultimate aim is to provide researchers with access to health data for the purpose of research that helps to understand and improve patient care. By bringing together patients, clinicians and researchers, we can look into issues, like dementia and cancer survival rates, and make a real difference to patient outcomes.”

Owen Johnson from the University of Leeds, who was the academic supervisor for the collaboration, explained more:

“TPP partnered with us after several years working together to use clinical information systems within our medical and nursing degree programmes. They were keen to use their insights into health data to help improve the quality and pace of medical research and wanted to ensure this was done within the strictest possible ethical frameworks.

“This award is a fantastic recognition of our work and the impact we are having in driving a radically new approach to large scale health and care research.”

Dr Chris Bates, Head of Analytics, Informatics & Research at TPP, who was the company supervisor, said: “Data analysis brings about huge opportunities for healthcare improvement and in ResearchOne we have concrete examples of the potential benefits. This year alone, we have used the database to conduct research projects on frailty, antibiotic resistance and cardiovascular disease.

“This partnership has seen us establish ourselves firmly in the research arena and ResearchOne has certainly brought added value to the business. There has been a significant interest both domestically and internationally about the additional research benefits that electronic health records bring and the possibilities to develop new care pathways.”

Dr Bates, who is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, was also recently named as one of Health Service Journal's top innovators in healthcare for his role in the “ResearchOne” project.

The award was announced at a ceremony in London, the KTP ‘Best of the Best’ awards, on Tuesday 4 November.

Celebrating the stand-out successes among the year's KTP projects, finalists came from the commercial world and publicly funded organisations, engaged in fields ranging from pharmaceuticals and healthcare through to high-value manufacturing and environmental technologies.

The Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) for Yorkshire and Humber is working with the University of Leeds Health Services Innovation Hub to promote the “ResearchOne” data service for the benefit of the research community across the region.

Dr Dawn Lawson, Chief Operating Officer of the YHAHSN, said: “We are delighted that this successful partnership has won the RCUK Knowledge Base Impact. I’m sure it will help us in ensuring wide and successful uptake of the ResearchOne Data Service by researchers.”

Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board, is the UK's innovation agency, an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It funds and supports innovation to support businesses and the tools and programmes offered by the organisation include Collaborative Research and Development, SBRI (the Small Business Research Initiative), Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Launchpad competitions and overseas missions.

Further information

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Through KTPs, organisations can access specialist knowledge and expertise to tackle a strategically important opportunity or challenge. A recent graduate or postgraduate will be recruited to work in a business as part of a six month to three year project focused on achieving targeted outcomes by embedding new knowledge and capabilities in the organisation.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at the University of Leeds

The breadth of high-level research available from academic partners in the nine faculties at the University of Leeds makes us an ideal partner.

Since its launch in 2004, the University of Leeds KTP office has:
• supported the successful application and award of every KTP proposal submitted – a total of more than 80 proposals
• helped secure over £11 million in grant funding
• worked successfully with both large companies and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) including Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, DePuy, CGI International, Phillips, The Phoenix Partnership Ltd, International Innovative Technologies Ltd and Yorkshire Bank
• ensured six of the nine projects that completed in 2013 received the top grading of “outstanding” from the board, with the remaining three receiving the second highest rating “very good”.

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