Institute for Precision Health

Developing partnerships for innovation in health

We were delighted to host 16 fabulous speakers at Leicester City Football Club on 27 June 2024.

This ‘Developing Health Partnerships event’ brought together researchers from across the University of Leicester and Leicestershire Academic health partners, with innovative research facilitators, key funders, and businesses with a stake in health and health technology.

There was a fantastic vibe in the room, and we were delighted to see so many conversations between our stall holders and attendees. We have already heard of several new potential partnerships as a result of this event, and look forward to supporting these and more through the innovation pipeline.

Read more about our speakers and stall holders below.

Guest speakers for this event

Professor Don Jones’ research involves discovering and implementing novel biomarkers of disease using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry techniques. His group are establishing targeted assays for biomarkers and working with pathology colleagues to validate and achieve clinical accreditation. Professor Jones co-directs the van Geest Multi-OMICS facility, Institute for Precision Health, Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics team and the MRC Impact Accelerator Account, all of which helps to coalesce collaborative precision health activities across the University, NHS and commercial partners.

Mr William Wells is the University of Leicester’s Commercial Director. His activity covers a wide range of commercial activities, developing commercial/collaborative partnerships with industry; developing commercial propositions and business plans; developing products and services; and delivering a strategy to support sustained research and enterprise growth within the University. Will has an extensive knowledge of the pathways into collaboration, and will be on hand during the day to talk to prospective business partners.

Ms Victoria Patel joined the Medilink team in 2019. She has extensive experience with ERDF funded projects from her previous roles, delivering business and funding support to Leicestershire businesses at the Growth Hub and Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP). Victoria has a BA from Leicester University and also has hands-on experience of growing a successful, innovative business. We are delighted that she will be on hand to advise on opportunities on growth and commercialisation of Health and Life Science-related research.

Professor John Schwabe’s world-leading research comprises understanding enzymes inside the cell nucleus that assemble into large complex molecular machines to regulate genes. His group has led the field in how these complexes are assembled, how they act together with other proteins to control physiology and how this mechanism is affected by disease. Prof Schwabe directs the Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology which houses the state-of-the-art £6 million Regional Cryo-Electron Microscopy facility, and the BBSRC Impact Accelerator Account which is a key facilitator of academic and commercial collaborations.

Dr Luca Moreddu is a senior software developer at the Collaborative Computational Project for NMR (CCPN), a project funded by the MRC. His research focuses on the development of software tools for Fragment Based Drug Discovery by NMR, and tools for studying the dynamics of large-molecule interactions and behaviours. Luca has also a key role in fostering and maintaining collaborations with industrial stakeholders, which drive the development of novel and strategic solutions for both parties in the NMR data analysis context. Luca and his colleagues have recently established partnerships with OmniumAI, an AI-specialised enterprise, funded through the BBSRC Impact Accelerator Account.

Dr Harvinder Virk is an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in respiratory medicine, and co-founder of the Only Good Antibodies community. Harvinder has brought together a diverse and effective collaborative partnership between basic, clinical, and behavioural scientists from academia, industry, and non-profit organisations. The Only Good Antibodies community has had support from both BBSRC and MRC Impact Accelerator Accounts, helping to realise their ambition of facilitating reliable and reproducible antibody-based research.

Professor Chris Brightling’s research focusses on improving the clinical management and understanding mechanisms of airway diseases such as asthma, chronic coughs and COPD. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator, Respiratory Theme Lead for Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Director Institute for Lung Health, Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician, is the national lead for the post-COVID consortium PHOSP-COVID, and the lead for precision medicine in airways disease for the 3TR EU-IMI consortium. Prof Brightling is the Clinical Director for the Institute for Precision Health, and is on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Midlands Mindforge – a patient capital investment company, co-founded by eight research-intensive universities in the Midlands, including the University of Leicester.

Professor Martin Dyer is a Haemato-Oncologist, establishing lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia clinics in the Leicester Royal Infirmary and then developing early phase and first-in-man clinical studies on the Hope Clinical Trials Unit. He is currently working on novel antibodies in collaboration with a number of pharma companies, as well as studies on targeted small molecules for lymphoid malignancies. Funding via the MRC Impact Accelerator Account has helped to establish a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the biotech company, Isogenica, investigating novel VHH antibody approaches to create bispecific and multi-specific biotherapeutics against B cell malignancies.

Dr Natalie Garton is a Lecturer in Microbiology with an interest in mycobacterial physiology, lipid metabolism and the impact on response to antimicrobial agents. This may open up new opportunities for predicting tuberculosis treatment response, drug development and infection control. Industry exchange funding via the MRC Impact Accelerator facilitated interactions with Cytecom Ltd to investigate the potential of their novel technology for assessment of growing and inhibited mycobacteria. This led to a partnership with Cytecom Ltd and involvement as a co-investigator in an NIHR Invention for Innovation Product Development Award aimed to develop their technology for rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing of blood stream infection.

Dr Mervyn Thomas is a Clinical Associate Professor, Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinical lead of the Ulverscroft Eye Unit at the University of Leicester. He has worked extensively on foveal hypoplasia and is a scientific advisor for Nystagmus Network and the Global Albinism Alliance Scientific Committee. Dr Thomas has developed a successful collaboration with Leica to improve diagnosis and management of retinal disease, funded through the MRC Impact Accelerator Account.

Professor Nigel Brunskill Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Leicester and an honorary consultant nephrologist at UHL since 1997 where he remains clinically active and jointly leads the Renal Obstetrics service. He has been active in clinical research for over 30 years. He is Director of the NIHR Leicester CRF, Director of Research and Innovation for UHL NHS Trust, Director of Clinical Research for the University of Leicester College of Life Sciences, and Director of the Leicestershire Academic Health Partners.

Dr Ruw Abeyratne is Director of Health Equality and Inclusion at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, leading on the trust’s approach to understanding and addressing health inequalities. Ruw is also a consultant in Geriatric and General Medicine with clinical interests in frailty, ‘front door’ geriatrics and surgical liaison. Funding through the Leicestershire Academic Health Partnership is enabling a data-driven approach to tackle health inequalities, addressing inequitable access to care, and differential experiences and outcomes for underserved groups.

Ms Nicole McGlennon is the accountable officer for Health Innovation East Midlands. She has a wealth of experience working in diagnostics, medical technology and pharmaceutical industries, building relationships between industry, academia and health and care stakeholders both in the UK and internationally. She has significant experience in all aspects of commercialising innovations and focusing on the outcomes required, and we are delighted that she will be available to advise on aspects of the commercialisation and implementation process.

Dr Wen Wang is progressing workplace changes aimed at improving productivity and staff wellbeing, through practices that facilitate the flourishing of a diverse workforce. As a quantitative researcher, she endeavours to capture the 'pulse of change' at the workplace through innovative research methods. She has particular interest in understanding how to support junior doctors in their career journeys, with her research supported partly through the University’s ESRC Impact Accelerator Account.

Professor Maria Karanika-Murray's work focuses on understanding how work-related well-being and performance can be managed in tandem. As part of that, she does research on a range of topics, such as organisational interventions, presenteeism, and sustainable work. Her work has been funded by a range of UK, EU, and industry funders, and she has published widely for a range of audiences.

Dr Lizelle Bernhardt is the Head of Nursing and Allied Health Professions Research in Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and an NIHR Senior Research Leader for Nursing and Midwifery. Lizelle has an extensive clinical background in critical care and cardiovascular nursing. She is the current British Association for Nursing in Cardiovascular Care (BANCC) Research Forum Chair and an early career post-doctoral nurse researcher. Funding through the Leicestershire Academic Health Partnership has enabled a collaboration to investigate inequalities in access to and outcomes of cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation in multi-morbid patients.


Institute for Precision Health. The Institute is dedicated to hastening delivery of the right intervention to the right person at the right time through supporting strong collaborations and interdisciplinary research. Come and meet the Institute and Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics team. We have a wealth of experience in delivering proof-of-concept research projects incorporating molecular biology, multi-fluorescence imaging, drug discovery, structural biology, in vivo, ex-vivo, infectious diseases, sequencing, bioinformatics and working within ISO accredited facilities. The team are able to advise on what makes a successful application to our MRC Impact Accelerator Funding, and are here to help deliver your project.

Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology. The Institute brings together academics who use structural and chemical biology to answer challenging questions in biology. We use different techniques, each able to address different questions and generate detailed 3D structures of biomolecules. This includes our state-of-the-art Cryo-EM facility, which complements our outstanding NMR and crystallography capabilities. We also have expertise in single-molecule microscopy to investigate complex and dynamic biological processes. The Institute includes experts engaged in work that could ultimately lead to new medical treatments, securing support from pharmaceutical companies and other funders. Come and meet the Manager, who can also advise you on future applications to our internal BBSRC Impact Accelerator Funding.

Medilink Midlands. Medilink Midlands provides specialist support to boost the region’s economic output from life sciences by overcoming barriers to growth. With comprehensive industry knowledge and networks across the medical technologies and life sciences industry, we offer members a gateway for essential connectivity to the academic, business and clinical communities, helping to form new collaborative partnerships and to navigate the increasingly complex health innovation landscape. Working alongside the Midlands Engine and other strategic alliances, Medilink Midlands helps stimulate additional and value-added growth of the Midlands as a prosperous community for life sciences. Come and talk to us to find out more.

Health Innovation East Midlands (HIEM). We bring together partners from across all sectors involved in health and care including the NHS, social care and public health, patients, research, third sector and industry – to identify, test and spread new technologies and better ways of working. We aim to save the NHS money, generate economic growth, empower health and care staff, and improve the experience and outcomes of patients. Our business planning priorities reflect those of national and local partners - in particular, we work closely with our Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to establish their priorities and work with them to provide support and solutions in the areas we identify together.

Innovate UK ICURe. “Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research” (ICURe) is the UK's leading only national early-stage research accelerator programme. Navigating the path to market for your research can be uncertain, making it challenging to determine the right direction and the subsequent steps required for a successful outcome. The ICURe Programme has been developed to facilitate Early Career Research teams with the training, funding and support they need, to refine and validate their commercial potential and see their research and technology develop into a spin-out success story.
Our programme has the ability to fast-track the validation of business ideas and to give research teams new insights into their business model and their market positioning. Come and have a chat with us.

National Institute for Health and Care Research Invention for Innovation programme (NIHR i4i). The NIHR is funded by the UK government to work in partnership with the life sciences industry to help you plan and deliver research in the UK health and social care environment. We work with all companies at all stages of development; from funding, to site identification, to supporting your sites to deliver your trial. Our Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is a translational research funding scheme aimed at medical devices, in vitro diagnostic devices and digital health technologies addressing an existing or emerging health or social care need.

Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between NHS organisations and universities, bringing together academics and clinicians to translate scientific discoveries into potential new treatments, diagnostics and technologies. The NIHR Leicester BRC is part of the NIHR and hosted by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in partnership with the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group. We are championing health research across six themes: Respiratory and Infection; Lifestyle – including type 2 diabetes; Personalised Cancer Prevention and Treatments; Environment and Health; Using data to understand Long Term Health Conditions and Health Inequalities; Cardiovascular Disease. We are working with the Institute for Precision Health to identify new partnerships that can help us to deliver improved patient outcomes across our areas of expertise.

The Biomedical Engineering Research Group (BERG) comprises a multidisciplinary team with expertise spanning machine learning, AI, cellular engineering, computational biology, biomaterials, biomechanics, prosthetics, biofluidics, and biosignal processing. Our mission is to create medical technologies that improve patient outcomes and quality of life. BERG collaborates closely with clinicians and strategic partners to develop innovative solutions that address real-world healthcare challenges. Working alongside clinicians and industry partners allows BERG's diverse team to effectively translate cutting-edge research into practical medical applications. By bridging fundamental research and clinical implementation, BERG aims to make a meaningful impact in the MedTech and HealthTech sectors.

Leicester Commercial and Partnership Development Team:

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). De-risk your innovation project with funding from the Government’s Innovation Agency, UKRI Innovate. The University of Leicester has world-leading academic knowledge in science and engineering, life sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Academic know-how will help plug skills gaps in the business. Depending on the size of the business, up to 66% of innovation funding will be paid for by a grant. For charities, up to 75% funding is available. A KTP typically lasts for 12 to 36 months and employs an associate to transfer skills and expertise into the business that will commercialise a product or service.

Commercial and IP team. The Commercial & IP Team are based within the Research and Enterprise Division (RED) at the University of Leicester. The team supports the strong innovation culture across the University taking ideas from our world-changing research to create real-world impact through commercialisation. Come and talk to us to find out more.

Leicestershire Academic Health Partners (LAHP). The LAHP is a distinguished collaboration dedicated to enhancing healthcare through innovative research and integrated clinical practice. Working in collaboration with UoL, Leicester Partnership Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board and Health Innovation East Midlands (HIEM), we aim to leverage our collective expertise to revolutionise healthcare delivery. Our mission to expedite the translation of ground breaking research into practical healthcare innovation is achieved through focused academic themes addressing key questions and challenges relevant to local healthcare needs. Come and meet some of our LAHP team members to discuss our current and upcoming priorities in addition to any initiatives or projects that you are planning.

Charnwood Campus Science, Innovation and Technology Park with laboratories, specialist manufacturing and office spaces available immediately, offers a wide range of business support programmes aimed at developing life sciences cluster in the region, including the Life Sciences Talent and Skills Institute and NHS Academia Platform. Exhibitions and networking events complement its varied range of amenities, technical and clinical resources. Endorsed by the government as an Enterprise Zone and Life Sciences Opportunity Zone Charnwood Campus drives the life sciences agenda in the region. Read more about Charnwood Campus UK Science Park

Informed Genomics Ltd. The company is a clinically certified sequencing service provider (UKAS ISO15189) that specialises in direct to patient genetic testing and wider omics translational research for application in human disease. We collaborate with universities, translational research centres, pharma, biotech and private/public healthcare systems to enable accessible genomic testing that transforms an individual’s healthcare journey, enabling earlier diagnosis, personalised treatments and improved outcomes. Come and meet the team to discuss future partnerships for translational research or direct to patient genetic testing. We can advise on personalised research designs for joint funding applications or collaborate on existing work where a specialised clinical NGS provider is needed to deliver your project.

UKRI Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC funds discovery and translational work across all disease areas and technologies. Sophie Liddell, a Programme Manager in the MRC Translation team will be happy to discuss MRC funding opportunities to support work and drive innovation beyond the Impact Accelerator Account (IAA) stage. These could include the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), Developmental Pathway Gap Fund, Experimental Medicine Panel, Small molecule High Throughput Screening with AstraZeneca facilities, or the MRC/NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) programme. For follow up queries please contact or

Renfrew Group International is a thoughtful organisation skilled in converting ideas into useful and desirable products. Whether your business is a fresh start-up or large multinational, our product design engineers can help your team develop a new product. As a leading product design consultancy we have a wealth of experience across a number of sectors including medical, scientific, engineering, consumer and automotive. We are currently working on projects with the Dept of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester.

Innovate UK Business Connect (the new name for Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network). We connect innovators with new partners and new opportunities beyond their existing thinking – accelerating ambitious ideas into real-world solutions. Roya Esat-Dabestani is the Precision Medicine Lead for Innovate UK Business Connect. Prior to this role she has worked mostly in academic settings, in which she has led multidisciplinary teams and projects, and collaborated with technology transfer departments on translation from bench-to-bedside. Her varied role at IUK BC includes providing guidance on the public sector funding landscape, delivering grant writing workshops and reviewing grant applications.

UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Research funded by BBSRC addresses major challenges in agriculture, food security, industrial biotechnology, and health, driving advances that contribute to the economic and social well-being of the UK and beyond. Visit our stall to learn more about the support that BBSRC can provide you, from funding opportunities for cutting-edge bioscience research through to support for early-stage innovation and commercialisation and collaborative programmes connecting academia and industry.

Leicester College of Social Sciences Arts and Humanities. Join us to find out more about the pressing questions and challenges that are being explored by health researchers from across the College: from bioarchaeological research on the impact of tobacco use on population health to research partnerships with the NHS seeking to reduce workforce attrition and improve the working lives of clinicians. We are at the early stages of developing a health research partnerships network and online expertise portal featuring researchers, clinicians, practitioners, and partner organisations and would be keen to hear from anyone who is interested in being part of that.

PJ Care: Empowering Dementia Care with WiDI. PJ Care champions better lives for those with dementia and other neurological conditions. We're excited to showcase our innovative WiDI platform, a well-being assessment and monitoring tool designed to empower healthcare professionals and families. WiDI offers a personalised approach, capturing cognitive function, daily activities, and emotional state to generate data-driven insights. We believe WiDI can be a valuable tool for researchers, businesses, and funders who share our passion for improving neurological care with a special emphasis on dementia care. Come explore how WiDI can contribute to your research or caregiving journey, and discuss potential collaborations to revolutionise patient care.

University of Leicester School of Business. We support organisations to develop leadership and management expertise, develop innovations, engage with student talent and connect through business-focussed events. Our support includes a fully-funded 12-week management course, a Level 7 Senior Leader Apprenticeship funded through the UK apprenticeship levy, salary-funded graduate internships and our bi-monthly business networking event, the B.I.G Networking Breakfast. Come and meet the University of Leicester School of Business team and explore how we can support you and your organisation.

Smallfry. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Smallfry boasts an impressive track record. We’ve honed a robust and reliable design development process over several decades and developed a reputation for understanding how to bridge the ‘chasm of commercialisation’, working with prestigious universities. Currently, Smallfry is assisting premier university tech-transfer and IP departments, supporting their spin-outs, and exploiting emerging technologies to create innovative new products.

Ignys Ltd. Ignys is an ethical electronics design consultancy, with embedded software and hardware development expertise, who offer support at every stage of electronic product development. With decades of electronics design engineering expertise in medical and multiple other sectors, we bring innovative tech products to life. Winners of the coveted ELEKTRA Electronics Design Team of the Year 2021, 22 & 23 we are looking forward to joining you all on June 27th at Innovation for Health.

i3 Simulations. i3 Simulations is a global frontrunner in AI-driven XR/VR technology for medical and healthcare training simulations. Our core specialisation lies in capturing the knowledge possessed by medical experts and translating it into immersive XR simulations that offer intuitive, interactive and immersive training experiences. We excel as a turnkey solutions provider, leading innovative R&D efforts, and delivering tailor-made XR products designed to meet the unique requirements of our clients in the medical and healthcare sectors.

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