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Home » Life sciences » Rise in innovation to meet the COVID-19 challenge

Phil Kemp

Chief Executive, Bruntwood SciTech

Global impact, unprecedented challenges, shifting priorities – these have been hot topics over the recent months. But, a less highlighted topic that should be recognised, is the rapid rate of innovation and commercialisation in the life sciences sector.

Reduced production time for new products

New products and services have historically taken years to get from bench to bedside, particularly those in a clinical setting.

Now, within the first year of a new decade, the brightest minds in the country from academia, industry and clinical care have compressed this journey into a matter of weeks, and new innovations are being launched and adopted at an unparalleled pace.

The creation of the biggest testing network in British history

The UK government approached the Medicines Discovery Catapult to coordinate the establishment of the national COVID-19 ‘megalabs’.

Within three weeks, one of three national ‘Lighthouse Lab’ testing centres had been established at Alderley Park.

From testing to tech, one thing is consistent during these ever-changing times: innovation continues.

Together, these now make up the biggest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history.

The laboratory has rapidly become home to over 80 scientists and volunteers, with the capacity to test up to 65,000 samples per day, enabling thousands of NHS and key workers to return to the frontline.

Increased collaboration between industry and clinical care

Within two days of UK lockdown, Yourgene Health, an international molecular diagnostics company renowned for their expertise in prenatal testing and Cystic Fibrosis, used their expertise and knowledge to help join the early fight against COVID-19.

They partnered with a specialist clinical diagnostics company, to support the manufacturing of their test, and set up a COVID-19 test facility at Citylabs, directly surrounded by the NHS Trust hospitals in Manchester. Yourgene have also developed their own PCR based SARS-CoV-2 product that focuses on fast turnaround and a low false negative rate.

Such collaboration has been at the fore. Companies such as Stream Bio have been collaborating with MIP Diagnostics on a rapid diagnostic and mass screening test for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, at Manchester Science Park global molecular diagnostics company QIAGEN, Affinity Biomarker Labs and the University of Manchester have supported patient testing on platforms; illustrating the utility of existing high throughput PCR and antibody-based testing platforms, while demonstrating the commercial potential for new tests being developed within Greater Manchester.

From testing to tech, one thing is consistent during these ever-changing times: innovation continues.

Bruntwood SciTech is the UK’s leading provider of office, lab and scientific services for the science and technology sector. Our network of innovation districts connects the UK’s most ambitious cities, regions and science & technology communities through collaboration and a unique public, private, academic, clinical partner network. Find out more:

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