Imperial College London

Project to drive healthcare innovation secures £1.5m from Research England


researchers examone brain scans on a tablet

Three universities collaborate to link innovation ecosystems and support present and future medical technology startup founders.

A life sciences partnership that brings together Imperial, the University of Hertfordshire and Cranfield University has been awarded £1.5 million in funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund. The aim is to drive the development of innovative healthcare technologies across eastern England and beyond.

The Healthcare Technologies Capability Connector (HTCC) will link London-based entrepreneurs and innovation hubs, including the London MedTech cluster around the White City Innovation District, with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire’s burgeoning biopharma sector. This includes Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Cranfield’s Industrial Technology Park.

White City from the air
The White City Innovation District in London will be one element in the Healthcare Technologies Capability Connector. Photo: Jason Hawkes

“The UK’s life science sector is of strategic importance, not only to the economy, but also the country’s health, wealth and resilience,” explained Yanina Aubrey-Gimenez, Director of Business, Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Hertfordshire, which is leading the project.

A key challenge as the sector looks to grow and remain competitive is to create the conditions for innovations to scale-up. This can be helped by facilitating access to space, specialist labs, equipment, research and manufacturing expertise.

“HTCC aims to respond to this challenge by linking-up London-based small and medium-sized enterprises and innovators to ecosystems in the larger Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire regions which are ready to support innovation at scale,” said Ms Aubrey-Gimenez.

Targeted support

The HTCC programme, which will launch in January 2024, will provide targeted support for R&D-focused healthcare companies in the early and scale-up stages, offering help with business acceleration and commercialisation. Meanwhile, researchers from all three universities who wish to commercialise their ideas will receive funded support.

“I’m excited that one focus of the project is bringing talented individuals into startups, and helping founders make the most of the opportunity to work with such individuals,” said Victoria Nicholl, Head of Incubation Services at Imperial. “Early employees have a huge impact on startup outcomes, and having three diverse institutions working together increases the chance of bringing together the right combinations of people.”

Having three diverse institutions working together increases the chance of bringing together the right combinations of people. Victoria Nicholl Head of Incubation Services, Imperial

By linking key existing innovation ecosystems in this sector, enhancing researchers’ ability to bring their ideas to market and providing businesses with access to both expertise and specialist facilities, the programme intends to accelerate innovation and commercialisation.

It will also help promote the adoption of new innovations in the NHS and contribute to the creation of new jobs and the overall growth of the UK’s healthcare sector.

HTCC is one of 14 projects to receive funding through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, which aims to reinforce critical innovation ecosystems around the UK already playing a crucial role in economic growth, scientific innovation and levelling up.

“This incredible funding boost by Research England will enable us to leverage our combined strengths to help us meet key industry needs and play a role in advancing the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower,” said Professor John Senior, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hertfordshire.

Main image: Imperial/Thomas Angus


Ian Mundell

Ian Mundell


White-City-Campus, Entrepreneurship, Enterprise
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