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Local Enterprise Partnerships and Oxford AHSN work together to foster life sciences growth

New organisations like Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) have a key role to play in ensuring the right infrastructure and clinical and commercial networks are in place to support growth in the life sciences sector.

That was the overarching message from a well-attended workshop at the BioTrinity event in May which featured senior figures from the Oxford AHSN and the region’s LEPs.

David Gillham from the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP highlighted the importance of collaboration beyond traditional boundaries in driving growth. The LEPs are making those connections for small companies which are too busy just doing their day job.

He said: “A small amount of funding can catalyse follow-on funding. Big companies look to small companies for innovation and small companies look to big companies for a route to market.”

Dave Waller from the Oxfordshire LEP added: “There are real opportunities to build on our existing strengths and accelerate the translation of technology into commercial success through enhanced collaboration between universities, business and local councils.”

The discussion with delegates covered the importance of taking a wider regional view and planning ahead so infrastructure developments keep pace with business expansion. Neil Gibson from the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP highlighted the role they had played in securing the first phase of the Oxford-Cambridge rail link.

Oxford AHSN / LEP inward investment workshop Biotrinity 13/05/14

LEP representatives (left-right) Dave Waller (Oxfordshire), Neil Gibson (Buckinghamshire) and David Gillham (Berkshire) with Nigel Keen (standing), Dr Nick Scott-Ram and Dr Paul Durrands (right) at BioTrinity workshop on inward investment, May 2014.

Dr Paul Durrands, Oxford AHSN Chief Operating Officer, said: “How we work together is really important. We want to work closely with the LEPs because we have a common agenda around wealth creation. We are seeing more collaboration between NHS trusts and with universities, local authorities and private enterprise which is really exciting as this will result in better health and prosperity for the people in our region.”

Dr Nick Scott-Ram, Oxford AHSN Director of Commercial Development, said: “We need better planning taking account of the needs and requirements of industry and the lead time it all takes. Bringing in investment needs the right infrastructure to support it.”

Oxford AHSN Chair Nigel Keen, who chaired the workshop, emphasised that the most important factor in all this was to deliver improvements for patients – and the AHSNs and LEPs have the right connections to make that happen.