We commissioned independent scoping work in 2019 to look at what can be done to help people to connect across sectors. Key challenges were identified:
- a lack of incentives,
- difficulties in connecting with the right people/organisations,
- little recognition of mobility in career progression appraisals,
- cultural gaps between organisations and
- lack of resource to support engagement and backfill of mobile researchers, particularly from the NHS and small businesses.
To find solutions to these challenges, the scheme will encompass two main components. Firstly, we are establishing local networking hubs, to foster connections between people from all relevant sectors and offer support to overcome the challenges to collaborating. The hubs will be established in the regions/nations of the UK, in partnership with existing organisations. We are starting with our first hub in Wales, working with the Life Sciences Hub Wales.
Secondly, funding will be available after hub events to foster connections and longer term support of movement of people between sectors .
This new programme will seek to boost connections and activity in areas of specific priority to health research, including data analytics and artificial intelligence for genomics, pathology, drug development and medical imaging and cell and gene therapy.
We are grateful for the support of the UK Government BEIS and Wellcome enabling us to pilot this programme.
The first element of the Cross-Sector Programme is the establishment of networking hubs across the UK.
The main aims of the hubs are:
- Connecting researchers across sectors though themed networking events, specific to local priorities and areas of strength in health research
- Boosting collaborations and new cross sector research projects – attendees can apply for hub seed funds after the events
- Increasing researchers’ awareness of potential collaborations and developing their knowledge and skills to take advantage of opportunities for connections within different sectors
- Promoting opportunities that support cross sector working
The first hub will be piloted in partnership with Life Sciences Hub Wales to launch the Cross-Sector Programme. Networking hubs will then be established around the UK, bringing together researchers across the life sciences sectors through events, resources, relevant opportunities and when established, links to other hubs as part of the wider programme.
The next event will take place on 20 April 2023 in Cardiff Wales. Follow the link here for more information and registration details.
There will be seed funds available after each event to provide initial support to facilitate new collaborations.
We know that small amounts of funding are incredibly helpful to get collaborations going. We are offering small seed awards to networking hub event attendees to build on their connections by, for example, enabling travel for meetings and short visits, contributing to initial experiments to test out ideas or buying consultant time to start scoping. The funding will be available to apply into after the event and will be awarded on merit. This funding scheme is under development and will be launched later in 2023, further information will be shared here in due course.
The Cross-Sector Programme also aims to build on these connections made, not only through the hub events and small seed funding. Open, competitive funding will be available once the first networking hubs are established, to support flexible movement ‘secondments’ of researchers between sectors to promote health innovation.
Both the early scoping work and development of the programme have been informed by a wide range of experts representing all life sciences sectors.
The programme development and delivery has been overseen by Professor Jackie Hunter CBE FMedSci.
Reference group membership:
- Professor Jackie Hunter CBE FMedSci FRSB (Chair), Benevolent AI
- Professor Ed Bullmore FMedSci, University of Cambridge
- Dr Muireann Coen, AstraZeneca and Imperial College London
- Dame Kay Davies CBE FRS FMedSci, Univeristy of Oxford
- Dr Elin Haf Davies, Apartio
- Professor Waljit Dhillo, Imperial College London
- Professor David Hawkes FREng FMedSci, University College London
- Professor Jonathan Knowles FMedSci, Genomics England
- Dr Jennifer Logue, AstraZeneca
- Dr Andrew Roddam, Our Future Health UK
- Mr Richard Stubbs, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN
- Dr Nishan Sunthares, ABHI Diagnostics
- Professor Julie Williams CBE FMedSci FLSW, University of Cardiff