The £80 million investment plan proposed by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin aims to establish the West Yorkshire Healthtech and Digital Tech Investment Zone. This initiative, approved by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, is expected to bring significant benefits to businesses, universities, and hospitals in the region over the next decade.

Key points of the investment plan include:

  1. Total Investment: The £80 million plan is part of a larger £160 million investment over a 10-year period. The first five years are expected to leverage over £220 million of combined public and private sector investment.
  2. Job Creation: The investment is anticipated to create over 2,500 skilled jobs within the first five years, providing a boost to the local economy and employment opportunities.
  3. Collaboration: The initiative will bring together universities, businesses, and hospitals to collaborate on cutting-edge research and the development of innovative technologies for healthcare. The focus is on creating a collaborative ecosystem that fosters advancements in health and digital technology.
  4. Global Leadership in Health and Digital Technology: West Yorkshire, as the home of NHS England, is positioned as a global leader in health and digital technology. The collaboration between universities (Bradford, Huddersfield, and Leeds), NHS Trusts, and local firms is intended to capitalize on this leadership position to drive research and development.
  5. Economic Clusters: The investment will be centred around three nationally significant clusters of economic activity. These clusters, located in Bradford, Huddersfield, and Leeds, will receive support in the form of infrastructure development, skills training, and business support.
    • The Digital Health Enterprise Zone at the University of Bradford aims to connect academics, researchers, and health and social care partners to drive business growth and skills development in the health tech sector.
    • The National Health Innovation Campus at the University of Huddersfield focuses on specialist clinical teaching and research to address health inequalities.
    • The HealthTech Innovation Hub in Leeds, a flagship project, involves the development of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Leeds Innovation Village, including a state-of-the-art digital hospital at the Old Medical School.
  6. University Involvement: Universities play a crucial role in the initiative, with the University of Bradford offering access to innovation, workforce development, and high-end facilities. The University of Huddersfield’s National Health Innovation Campus is expected to be central to the success of the investment zone.
  7. Economic Growth: The investment is seen as transformative for the region, with the potential to drive regional economic growth by bringing together clinicians, entrepreneurs, and academics to collaborate on innovative projects.

Overall, the West Yorkshire Healthtech and Digital Tech Investment Zone aims to create a vibrant ecosystem that fosters innovation, research, and economic growth in the health and digital technology sectors. The collaboration between key stakeholders, including universities, businesses, and hospitals, is expected to have far-reaching benefits for both the local community and the broader healthcare industry.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said; “For the UK economy to prosper it needs West Yorkshire to succeed, and devolution is helping us empower our healthtech and digital sectors, transforming the lives of patients worldwide.

“This multi-million-pound investment will help us build world-leading innovation centres in Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds, bringing together our universities, businesses and hospitals to drive the development of life-changing technologies and deliver thousands of skilled jobs.

“Through our investment zone, we’re changing our region for the long-term, working with partners and the government to build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire that works for all”.

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bradford, said; “We welcome the opportunities for Bradford and West Yorkshire businesses afforded by the Investment Zone.

“Our University will offer businesses in the digital and health technology sectors access to many ways to make a difference, through innovation, workforce development and access to high-end facilities, an example of which is our recent £4.8m award from Research England to develop and evaluate innovative health technology.”

Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said; “The University of Huddersfield is proud to be at the heart of Huddersfield’s Station to Stadium Corridor.

“The University’s National Health Innovation Campus will be core to the success of the West Yorkshire Investment Zone, with seven state-of-the-art buildings designed to tackle health inequalities, provide specialist clinical teaching facilities and drive entrepreneurial academic activity, in addition to providing space to support business growth and innovation.

“This will be truly transformational for the town and the West Yorkshire region. This announcement demonstrates the crucial role universities play in driving regional economic growth.”

Dame Linda Pollard, Chair of the Leeds Innovation Partnership, said; “I am delighted that the Old Medical School has been chosen to be the flagship project for the West Yorkshire Healthtech and Digital Technology zone and it is great to see our vision for a leading Healthtech Innovation hub get this boost.

“The Healthtech Innovation Hub will uniquely co-locate clinicians, entrepreneurs, and academics for the first time and provide space for scale-ups and start-ups. Running alongside the Trust’s new state-of-the-art hospitals of the future, this infrastructure for the city really will be a hotbed of innovative thinking, collaboration and development bringing life-changing benefits for patients being treated in Leeds and impressive economic benefits for the city and wider region.”