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Innovation Agency’s role in new £10.5m investment company for health innovators

The Innovation Agency played a leading role in creating a new company which will provide funding and support for early stage innovations in healthcare in Liverpool City Region.

  • £10.5m investment to boost innovation in Liverpool City Region - initially creating up to 100 jobs
  • New company LCR Ventures will provide funds and advice to help health and life sciences innovators turn great ideas into businesses
  • Plan initiated by Innovation Agency and local NHS trusts

The company, LCR Ventures, was launched by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram with £10.5m investment as part of a vision for the Liverpool City Region to be a UK innovation powerhouse.

The Liverpool City Region is aiming to invest more than double the national target on research and development by 2030, linked to £3bn of innovation projects.

The initial focus on health innovation is due to this sector being one of the strongest in the region’s economy; and because the idea for LCR Ventures came from the need for early stage support for clinical innovators in the NHS.

Innovation Agency is key sponsor

The Innovation Agency championed the initial idea with local NHS trusts and collaborated with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Growth Platform to create the new company.

Innovation Agency Director of Enterprise and Economic Growth, Lorna Green, now also founding chief executive of LCR Ventures, said: “The idea came about because of the lack of funding for great ideas to improve healthcare; we have fantastic clinicians in the NHS and creative businesses who want to help. Without that early stage funding and professional business advice, these ideas fail to get off the ground.

“LCR Ventures won’t just provide money to the best ideas, we will also advise and support innovators to take their product to the stage at which they can prove its potential and attract further investment.

“We want to see an explosion in innovative, high-growth businesses which will provide opportunities for young people to gain skills, keep our innovative clinicians within the NHS – and ultimately boost our local economy as well as raise standards in healthcare.”

In the short term LCR Ventures, thought to be the only company of its kind in the country, is expected to create 60 to 100 jobs, with more as the start-up companies grow.

LCR Ventures will take an equity stake in innovative new businesses in return for financial support and expertise in an effort to make them fully sustainable and high growth.  If the business is successful, the investment will be recycled and reinvested.

Health sector will go ‘stratospheric’ – Metro Mayor

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “In the Liverpool City Region, we are very lucky to have a cluster of world-class research institutions and a real passion for innovation. I want to take advantage of those strengths and turn them into profitable businesses, creating jobs and prosperity for local people, as well as delivering advances in healthcare that should save and improve people’s lives.

“Our investment builds on the assets of our region’s fantastic health and life sciences sector and will provide the support needed to help turn good ideas into great businesses.

“I’m determined to make our region the country’s innovation engine and, to make that happen, we’ll be investing five per cent of our GVA in Research and Development over the next few years – nearly double the government’s national targets. I truly believe that with the right support we could help take our health and life sciences sector stratospheric.

“By investing now to establish ourselves as a hotbed of innovation and new technology, we’ll be able to attract many more high-skilled, well-paid jobs and attract many, many more jobs, businesses and opportunities from around the world.”

The first £7.5m of funding has enabled project sponsor, the Innovation Agency, to establish LCR Ventures as a stand-alone not-for-profit company.

It will also create a £5m Challenge Fund for the health and life sciences sector, where the city region has existing world-class assets, including the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the largest cluster of specialist NHS hospitals and supporting assets outside London.

The ambition is to expand to other sectors in future as further funding becomes available.  The Combined Authority has ringfenced almost £3m to achieve this goal.

More than 100 innovations are currently being developed by NHS clinicians across the city region, each with the potential to deliver economic impact, commercial returns and improve patient outcomes.

Early support is vital - Inovus

The founder of a business supported by the Innovation Agency, Dr Elliot Street of St Helens-based Inovus Medical, said:

“I know from my experience as a clinician with an innovative idea just how important early stage support is in turning that idea into a commercially viable reality.  The Innovation Agency has opened doors to funding, supported our funding bids and helped spread the word on the innovative work we are doing at Inovus.

“LCR Ventures represents both a new source of funding for health and life sciences start-ups and a commitment to innovation from the Metro Mayor and the Combined Authority.  This is an exciting development and should help with the commercialisation of our city region’s undoubted strengths in innovation.”

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