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Life Sciences Hub Wales calls for industry collaboration to fight coronavirus

GPSJ

Cari-Anne Quinn

Wales’ leading organisation for healthcare innovation is calling on companies and innovators from across the country to join the fight against coronavirus.

Life Sciences Hub Wales is leading industry efforts to combat COVID-19 by launching a nation-wide drive to get companies from a range of sectors working together on solutions. Having already received interest from hundreds of businesses and professionals, its mission is to accelerate the development of urgently needed products and treatments, such as ventilators, hand sanitisers and Personal Protective Equipment to ease the pressures on health care services and help protect frontline staff combatting the outbreak.

The organisation, which works to improve Wales’ health and wellbeing by facilitating collaborations and innovations between NHS Wales, industry and academia, has identified four key challenge areas that must be urgently addressed to support healthcare services during the outbreak: medical devices, infection control, digital solutions, and social isolation.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and increasing numbers of patients require hospitalisation, ramping up the manufacturing and availability of medical devices such as ventilators, oxygen monitors and point of care testing equipment – both antigen and antibody testing kits– is a key priority.

Ensuring medical staff have access to hand sanitisation products as well as appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) including face masks, eye protection, gowns, shoe covers and disposable gloves – all of which are currently experiencing shortages – is critical to minimising the spread of infection.

Rapid adoption of digital technology will also be crucial to alleviating pressures on the NHS, preventing social isolation amongst ageing communities and connecting individuals with local health and social services while they are isolating. Solutions currently being explored include virtual GP consultations, at home working solutions for healthcare professionals and artificial intelligence assisted systems to manage inbound calls to health services.

To tackle these challenges and bring products and services to the frontline at pace, Life Sciences Hub Wales is working with businesses from a range of industries, including manufacturing, food and drink, IT and healthcare. Working together, they are exploring how they can scale up production, repurpose existing products and deploy their expertise and capabilities to deal with the crisis.

That work is already seeing businesses partnering to scale up production and bring much needed products to market quickly, distilleries switching their activities to create hand sanitiser, and manufacturers committing their production lines to the assembly of urgently needed equipment.

Last week, Life Sciences Hub Wales hosted a major industry-wide virtual conference which saw over 200 participants across 150 organisations come together to discuss possible ways of working together to tackle COVID-19 in line with the four challenges.

Life Sciences Hub Wales calls for industry collaboration to fight coronavirus

Leading industry names from across the globe joined the call including GE Healthcare, Amazon Web Services and Siemens Healthineers. A number of key projects have been identified with more information on these set to become available in the coming days.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said: “Being innovative is going to be absolutely vital in coming up with new ways of dealing with coronavirus.

“Life Sciences Hub Wales is playing a key role in this by bringing industry together with the NHS and social care to accelerate developing solutions which can save lives. I encourage all businesses and individuals who think they can make a real difference to get in touch.”

Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales said: “We are here to help unite industry and get much needed products, services and supplies where they are needed to help protect people and safe lives.

“If you’re a business or individual and think you can help in the fight against COVID-19, we want to hear from you. Get in touch with the team at Life Sciences Hub Wales and we can help you help us all by linking you up with people and businesses who can assist you to make a real difference to lives in Wales and beyond.”

Life Sciences Hub Wales is now looking for companies and experts who could support efforts within any of the four challenge areas to get in touch via email.

Any companies interested in getting involved should email their offer of support and details of their availability and capability to: information@lshubwales.com

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