Health Innovation Manchester Reveals Innovation Accelerator Projects

This week Greater Manchester launched its new multi-million-pound health innovation accelerator by revealing the projects that the two-year programme will support.

The Health Innovation Accelerator aims to rapidly improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease across Greater Manchester’s population, helping to address health inequalities. The health innovation accelerator will focus on tackling some of the most challenging disease areas through early diagnosis using novel approaches and holistic treatment aligned to people’s specific needs. It is hoped this will help to save more lives and improve health outcomes for people at high risk or living in the most disadvantaged communities.

Health innovation brings together academic institutions, innovators, businesses, NHS assets, healthcare providers and local authorities to create tangible solutions to the region’s healthcare needs.

Through working with innovative projects that focus on early diagnosis, it’s hoped that the Health Innovation Accelerator programme will be a catalyst for broader research throughout Greater Manchester. This Accelerator will form the basis of the creation of a health innovation ecosystem, becoming a major globally competitive centre for research and innovation.

The Acceleration Innovator launch event in Manchester City Centre on Monday 19 June 2023 began with a poignant reminder of why early diagnosis is so important by sharing the patient’s perspective of Russ Cowper. All of the projects funded by the Accelerator prioritise early diagnosis of health issues that affect large communities across Greater Manchester, particularly ethnically diverse or socio-economically deprived areas.

Then Ben Bridgewater, CEO of Health Innovation shared the ambitions for the Innovation Accelerator programme before the spotlight was turned on the delivery projects.

Innovators and project leaders discussed what their share of Innovation Accelerator funding aimed to achieve, how they would research and the common health issues in Greater Manchester communities that it hopes to address.

The Health Innovation Accelerator projects are:

  • DEVOTE – Development and Validation of Technology for Time Critical Genomic Testing – rapid genomics testing to improve care and benefit whole communities, where previously this technology took days or weeks and was very exclusive. This solution will address issues like adverse drug reactions, strokes and issues surrounding pain relief.
  • EARLY HF – Detecting EARLY Heart Failure in Greater Manchester – developing a risk prediction tool to give an idea of those at high risk of heart failure in ethnically diverse or socially deprived areas.
  • Redesigning liver care pathways to target under-served high-disease burden communities – liver disease is the 3rd biggest cause of premature death in Greater Manchester, this project would raise awareness of liver disease risks, bring liver health checks to communities and use AI to develop risk prediction algorithms
  • Chronic Kidney Disease Risk Stratification – to identify when a person has chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes to slow down the progression to failure
  • Integrating real-time POCT into lipids Management – supporting the management of high cholesterol through early diagnosis.
  • Remote Spirometry ADA – improving access to spirometry making it more affordable and user-friendly to support patients with asthma and respiratory conditions.
  • Lung Health Checks – the lung health check was born in Greater Manchester as mobile screening offers holistic intervention to people at risk. Building on the lung health check to research in communities and make screening more accessible.
  • Pre-Hospital Diagnosis of Acute Coronary Systems – an early diagnosis disease to identify heart attacks, the most common reason for a 999 call. Anyone who needs care can then be taken immediately to the necessary care, and low-risk patients can either bypass A&E triage or stay at home. This will reduce unnecessary ambulance use and improve rapid response to those who need it.

Ben Bridgewater CEO of Health Innovation Manchester said: “Addressing inequalities is now at the top of the city-region agenda. As we roll out innovation, we need to do it in a way that addresses inequalities. We need to have a much stronger, more resilient ecosystem from this, with better connectivity across projects, a focus on digital will ensure this connectivity.”


Rowena Burns, Chair of Health Innovation Manchester said: “One of the things that health innovation Manchester was set up to do was to bring together all of the assets in Greater Manchester, the academic institutions, industrial assets and our NHS assets, to develop novel solutions to real problems. 

“Success for this type of initiative attracts more success. It improves our reputation and means businesses will want to move here, creating highly skilled jobs.”


Chief Officer for Strategy & Innovation at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care said “We have to shift the system from one that is trapped in a crisis response to one that can respond and act. The need for us to spread innovation is real and is a central part of a strategy we need to pursue as an integrated care system.

“The brief for an innovation ecosystem is easy to create but hard to deliver. It must be responsive to the people and their needs. It needs to be coordinated in a way that is set to reduce inequalities, which needs to be a key aim. We have to be forensic and purposeful about addressing barriers and it needs to be deployed at scale.”

North West improves its FDI rankings with strong growth in 2022

The North West has jumped two places in the UK rankings for Foreign Direct Investment projects. EY’s latest UK Attractiveness Survey, which was published on June 19 2023, has revealed that the region has jumped from fifth place in 2021, to third place in 2022.

The survey reveals that the North West attracted 88 FDI projects in 2022, up 19% from a total of 74 the year before. Meanwhile, overall UK projects fell by 6%, from 993 to 929. Only London (299) and Scotland (126) attracted more FDI projects than the Northwest in 2022.

While the UK as a whole saw projects in Digital Technology fall by almost a quarter, the North West bucked this trend, with Digital Technology projects in the region up by 25% year-on-year.

The region’s strong performance in 2022 was also underpinned by significant growth in project numbers for the Electronics & IT and Finance sectors, while Sales and Business Services, Manufacturing and Research & Development were the North West’s most prominent FDI activities.

The North West’s share of all UK projects increased to 9.5%, surpassing its recent peak of 8.7% in 2020.

Excluding London, Manchester attracted more FDI projects than any other UK city in 2022 with a total of 45, up from 31 in 2021.

Stephen Church, EY’s North market leader, said: “The North West delivered a strong FDI performance in 2022, cementing its place as one of the most attractive regions for foreign investment in the UK. 

“The increase in digital tech projects in the region, amid a nationwide decline in project numbers, is particularly notable.

“This growth aligns with the continuing appetite our transactions teams in the North have seen for investment into digital technologies and capabilities in the Mergers and Acquisitions market in recent months.

“The North West’s diverse sector mix also played a key role in 2022’s performance, with growth supported by significant year-on-year gains in the Finance and Transportation Manufacture and Supply sectors.

“The excellent results across the North also demonstrate how regional and local leaders can help create business-friendly environments that align with an area’s specific strengths, challenges and needs.

“By empowering local areas to make decisions and implement policies that both support and encourage inward investment, the UK can take further advantage of its regional strengths and unique selling points to attract diverse investment opportunities.”


Of England’s nine regions, respondents ranked the North West as the fourth most likely destination for planned FDI projects, with 5% saying they were planning to expand or establish operations in the region, compared with 43% for top-ranked London. The East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber were just ahead of the North West on 6%.

The region’s top three sectors (Digital Technology, Finance and Electronics and IT) contributed a combined total of 32 FDI projects in 2022, with a total combined growth of 11 extra projects year-on-year.

Digital Technology was the North West’s frontrunner, accounting for 20 projects, up from 16 in 2021. Meanwhile the Electronics and IT and Finance sectors were joint second, accounting for six projects each.

Sales and Marketing was the top activity driving the North West’s FDI projects in 2022, with 41 projects, followed by manufacturing on 19 – up from 12 last year. Research & Development was the third most common activity in 2022, with 14 projects, up from 11 in 2021.

Despite encouraging growth in project numbers, the region had the third lowest number of jobs per project in England at 42 – although this was well ahead of London’s 32 jobs per project.

Nationally, more than half of the UK’s nations and regions attracted more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in 2022 than they did in 2021. The UK hosted 929 FDI-backed projects in 2022, the second highest project total in Europe, albeit down 6.4% from 993 projects in 2021.

London (299 projects) was still home to the most FDI projects out of any UK nation or region in 2022, but its share of all UK projects has fallen to 32% from a high of 49% in 2019.

Scotland (126 projects), the North West (88) and West Midlands (74) recorded the most projects outside London, while the biggest gains in England from 2021 were seen in the North East (33%), Yorkshire and the Humber (28%) and the East Midlands (23%).

The strong results across the North – all three regions saw double-digit growth – were underpinned by resilience in the digital sector and growth across a range of key activities, including manufacturing, sales, research and development, logistics, and headquarters projects.

Meanwhile, declines in the digital sector were the biggest drag on performance for the South of England. Digital projects in London almost halved, from 194 in 2021 to 107 in 2022, with significant falls also seen in the South East and South West. Despite this, the UK still led Europe for tech FDI.

Across Europe, France held onto top spot for total project numbers for a fourth consecutive year, although the UK once again ranked highest in Europe for new projects and continued to deliver more total jobs and jobs per project than Germany and France – trends consistent with the UK’s pivot in strategy to focus on value over volume when attracting FDI.

Hywel Ball, EY’s UK chair, said: “The strong FDI performance of Scotland, Wales and England’s regions in 2022 is a clear success for the UK.

“Notably, when asked to identify the policy area in which improvements would most increase the UK’s attractiveness, the investors we surveyed were most likely to pick the geographic rebalancing of the UK economy. While London’s attractiveness will endure, despite ups and downs, policymakers need to build on the clear interest in investment outside the capital.”

Great Northern Conference in Manchester

The University of Manchester leading innovation in hydrogen economy

The University of Manchester has been given funding from The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for a new R&D project to boost innovation in the hydrogen economy.

The University will lead an international team to build and demonstrate a new technology to produce syngas and pure hydrogen with nearly zero direct carbon dioxide emissions.

This £ 5.1 million collaborative project funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, specifically part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), also involves five world-leading industrial partners in the area of engineering for sustainable development: Johnson Matthey, TotalEnergies OneTech, Kent, Helical Energy and Element Energy.

The RECYCLE project (REthinking low Carbon hYdrogen production by Chemical Looping rEforming) will construct and test a fully integrated innovative hydrogen production pilot unit at The University of Manchester.

The technology is based on chemical looping reforming using fixed bed reactors which allow modular units and cost-effective solutions for hydrogen production using different feedstocks, with inherent carbon dioxide capture and separation at high purity.

The final demonstration is planned for the second half of 2024 in the pilot area of the James Chadwick Building at The University of Manchester.

The UK is leading the industrial revolution to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In the recently published Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan, the UK government is expecting to have two gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity in operation or construction by 2025 and 10 gigawatts in 2030, subject to affordability and value for money.

The RECYCLE project presents an opportunity to show continued innovation in the development of resilient and cost-effective solutions for a low carbon future.

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said:Hydrogen, known as the super fuel of the future, is critical to delivering UK energy security and clean, sustainable growth.

“I’m delighted that we have awarded funding to The University of Manchester so that they can build and test their first-of-a-kind hydrogen technology. This will generate opportunities for UK businesses to export their expertise around the world whilst supporting our ambition to have amongst the cheapest energy in Europe.”


Dr Vincenzo Spallina, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester and Principal Investigator of the RECYCLE project, said:The feasibility study carried out during Phase 1 demonstrated great potential for low carbon hydrogen in the UK market and it has huge implications for several industrial stakeholders. This project will demonstrate its feasibility at a pre-commercial scale to increase awareness of the next steps towards commercial implementation. 

“The demonstration plant will be installed in the James Chadwick Building where we are currently renovating the existing pilot hall area to establish the Sustainable Industrial Hub for Research and Innovation on sustainable process technologies. Our students will have the fantastic opportunity to see the next-generation hydrogen plant in operation as a unique teaching and learning experience. “


Professor Alice Larkin, Head of the School of Engineering at The University of Manchester, added:Our University is committed to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2038 as part of its Environmental Sustainability Strategy and supported by activity through our  Advanced Materials and Energy research beacons. This collaborative project will boost the prestige of our academic community to secure clean and sustainable development through Science and Innovation in close partnerships with industries.”


Silvian Baltac, Associate Partner and Industrial Decarbonisation lead at Element Energy, an ERM Group company, said:We are delighted to continue supporting the University of Manchester and the RECYCLE Consortium with the Phase II of the project. Element Energy, a leading low-carbon consultancy, will help develop the go-to-market strategy for the RECYCLE technology, as well as support the Consortium with strategic communications and engagement, ensuring learnings from the project are disseminated with industry, academia, and the wider energy sector.”


Mark Wickham, CEO of HELICAL ENERGY, commented:Our business is fully committed to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2038, by helping to develop and build neutral and negative carbon emissions technologies. This exciting collaborative project with the University of Manchester and industry partners will broaden our knowledge and experience in translational energy and build upon the work we are currently doing with other universities on carbon capture and hydrogen from biogenic fuels. RECYCLE is a fantastic innovative project that will make a significant contribution to carbon neutrality.”


Les Newman, Engineering & Consulting Managing Director at Kent, said:We are delighted to be part of this cutting-edge project.  It is aligned with Kent’s purpose to be a catalyst for energy transition and an exciting addition to our blue hydrogen project portfolio.  We look forward to working with the University of Manchester and the consortium partners to advance the progress of this novel low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture technology.”


Suzanne Ellis, Innovation Director for Catalyst Technologies at Johnson Matthey, said: “Johnson Matthey works with partners around the world to apply our expertise in synthesis gas, process technology and catalysis to enable a transition to a net zero future. We are delighted to be part of this consortium led by University of Manchester, exploring the potential for this promising next generation technology to be moved through to industrial impact, whilst also inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”



The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero provides dedicated leadership focused on delivering security of energy supply, ensuring properly functioning markets, greater energy efficiency and seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.


The funding from the Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 programme comes from the department’s  £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems and aims to decrease the costs of decarbonisation helping enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.


The University of Manchester named number 1 in the UK, number 1 in Europe and second in the world for social and environmental impact

The University of Manchester has been named top in both the UK and Europe, and second in the world for meaningful contributions towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in the 2023 THE University Impact Rankings.


Manchester’s top ranking comes from a record assessment of 1,705 universities from 115 countries/regions. As well as ranking first in the UK, The University of Manchester is also the only UK institution in the global top 10 and the only university in the world to rank in the top ten in every year the Impact Rankings have been running. In addition, the University attained the top spot for SDG 15 – Life on Land and was third for SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.

The ranking, now in its fifth year, is the world’s only one that measures universities’ contributions to the UN SDGs and assesses their commitment to sustainability across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach and teaching.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “At The University of Manchester social responsibility is a core goal and is very important to us. So, we’re delighted to be ranked first in the UK, first in Europe and second in the world in this year’s THE Impact Rankings, which are based on our performance against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 


“This builds on our performance in previous years, where we’ve been a global top 10 university for five years running – the only university in the world to do this. 


“These Impact Rankings cover the social and environmental contribution of universities across their full range of functions – through their research, their students, their public engagement and their operations – and we’re proud to be part of this ever-growing community of universities around the world leading work to a make a difference.” 


The UK has the most universities in the top 100 of the overall table with 26. British universities’ progress towards tackling the world’s greatest challenges are laid out in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2023.


Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, THE, commented: “The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, now in its fifth year, is establishing itself as one of the world’s most important university rankings.  

“It moves away from the traditional and more narrow approach to rankings and looks at far broader issues – examining how universities’ are improving our world.


“I’m especially impressed to see how well British universities are doing – taking more than a quarter of the top 100 places in the overall ranking and with a real diversity of institutions showing excellence. It is testament to how seriously those institutions take those critically important goals and how the UK higher education sector is taking a global lead on international sustainability issues. 


“It is also inspiring to see even more universities participate and see countries that don’t normally rank so highly do so well.  


“This is an extremely valuable tool for universities, governments, funders and policymakers to understand how universities are supporting the drive to meet the UN SDGs and what must be done to improve their performance even further in this massively important area. 


“The rankings are also vital for millions of prospective students who are increasingly demanding to see evidence that the universities they consider for their education are committed to sustainability and to helping them to become sustainably minded citizens.”


Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester who leads the institution’s entry to the ranking, said: “The evidence we submitted covers work from a wide range of our functions – our cultural institutions, equality, diversity and inclusion, widening participation, research impact, public and civic engagement, the student experience and reporting on the SDGs. Everyone in our University community should therefore take enormous pride in this result.”


Impact Rankings 2023: overall top 10

Western Sydney University Australia 1
The University of Manchester United Kingdom 2
Queen’s University Canada 3
Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia 4
University of Tasmania Australia 5
Arizona State University (Tempe) United States 6
University of Alberta Canada =7
RMIT University Australia =7
Aalborg University Denmark =9
University of Victoria Canada =9
Western University Canada =9


View the full Impact Rankings 2023 results

Manchester to create £3.8 million micro-scale robotic fashion research facility to develop sustainable production

A new fashion research facility which aims to support micro-scale fashion businesses using robotic technologies for more sustainable production has been awarded £3.8m.

The Robotics Living Lab (RoLL) which has been developed at Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to build the new facility

It will enable new research into highly responsive sustainable approaches for UK garment manufacturers.

Fashion researchers, designers and manufacturers will be able to use RoLL to collaborate and make use of robotic technologies with a focus on creating high-value, low-volume fashion production in the UK.

RoLL will conceive, test, and develop new tooling solutions – creating new stitching, cutting, pressing and repair tools – to support small fashion design businesses in using innovative manufacturing processes for more sustainable production.

The facility will also encourage new forms of research partnerships, enable fashion research to inform policy on carbon-neutral manufacturing and support Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s 2038 target for net zero manufacturing.

The funding was announced by Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith as part of a £103m investment into digital research and infrastructure.

Major renovations by Manchester Fashion Institute will see two office spaces repurposed and equipped for the Robotics Living Lab which will be comprised of a robotics lab and a work-in-progress (WIP) space, due to be completed by summer 2024.

Susan Postlethwaite, Professor of Fashion at Manchester Fashion Institute and director of RoLL said“I am delighted to have this funding from AHRC to facilitate the building and equipping of RoLL. The lab will enable fashion designers and manufacturers to work together using cutting-edge technology. This will impact hugely on micro and SME businesses and together we will be able to impact positively on the industry.

“I am very much looking forward to the build being completed and being able to occupy the spaces in the lab with a new and growing team of fashion and product designers, engineers, and social science researchers.”

The lab will be equipped with ‘cobots’ – collaborative robots designed to work alongside humans, with new end effector tools – devices used by cobots to perform a task.

These tools will be designed in collaboration with fellows of a co-design residency programme to develop interchangeable stitching, cutting, pressing and repair tools.

The development of design software for pattern cutting and garment construction sequencing will also allow for digitally enhanced design and manufacturing to take place.

Situated in a visible and prominent space within the Fashion Institute, RoLL and the research it will undertake will be accessible to fashion students and researchers at the University alongside small businesses.

RoLL will challenge the way fashion is traditionally made and lead the way in helping to transform a sustainable future for the fashion manufacturing industry.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £103m to expand and upgrade the UK’s world-class research infrastructure, including digital infrastructure.

The investments will support the sector and ensure UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class research and innovation.

MP Chloe Smith, Science and Technology Secretary, said: “Our world-class science and technology sectors are the engine room for growth in the UK economy, and the basis for scientific and technological advancements that will improve everyone’s lives.

“These sectors need continued, concerted and concentrated backing from the government and I am determined to provide it during my time as Science and Technology Secretary, through funding such as this, which will ensure our world-class labs have the infrastructure and equipment to match their status.”

Manchester University spin-out doubles its funding with a further £500,000 boost for green innovation

University of Manchester spin-out Molymem has doubled its funding to accelerate the creation of to greener and cheaper water filtration solutions.

Molymem which spun out of The University of Manchester in December 2022 with SEED equity of £500,000 led by Cambridge Angels has doubled its funding runway to over £1m with a further new investment from Green Angel Syndicate and Manchester based GC Angels.

Molymem has a mission to enable cleaner water for the world’s growing demand and has developed an energy-efficient and highly versatile membrane coating to support this. This breakthrough technology promises to be both greener and cheaper. The company will be using the extra investment to help accelerate its business development plans, scale the technology platform and build out the team.

The technology comes from research and patented technology led by Prof. Rob Dryfe and Dr. Mark Bissett, at The University of Manchester, working in partnership with innovation experts at the University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC). The SEED funding to date of £1m has all been via angel investors with the initial round in December 2022 lead by Cambridge Angels and the follow on headed by the Green Angel Syndicate.

Ray Gibbs, Chairman and Director at Molymem, saidThis additional funding will enable the company to quickly scale operations and deliver on its mission. The Angel investor confidence in the core team, the technology and the market need for our solution is a powerful endorsement for the Molymem business.”

Dr. Mark Bissett, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder Molymem Limited, & Reader in Nanomaterials, Dept. of Materials (University of Manchester) saidThis additional funding will allow us to accelerate our R&D program and expand to other 2D materials also covered in our patented technology, while also increasing the speed of our scale up of the technology.”

Richard Lydon, a leading filtration expert and senior advisor to Molymem during its funding cycle will become the company’s new CEO. He said: This is great news for an emerging innovation in the membrane space and the company is already started to engage with OEMs and end users. Climate change is driving the need for new solutions in membrane technology and Molymem goal is to work with the existing supply chains to bring a retrofittable membrane coating solution to market. More resilient, longer life and anti-fouling membranes will be required to maintain and improve water quality, reduce pollution, address Net Zero and build solutions for the developing world.”

Marc Shirman, Head of Investment at GC Angels said:The lack of pre-revenue investors in the UK remains a challenge for our early-stage ecosystem. GC’s investment in Molymem’s innovative nano-technology illustrates our commitment to pre-seed investment. Molymem’s particle filtration membrane product has the potential to solve the global problem of access to clean water for the disadvantaged parts of the world.”

“GC were able to follow management’s journey at the GEIC leading to the commencement of commercialisation of their intellectual property. As lead investor, GC co-invested with Green Angel Syndicate combining to deliver both investment capital and industry focused business support to enable the management team to rollout of this innovative product internationally.”

Paul Anson, a member of Cambridge Angels and recently joined as NED of Molymem said, We are delighted to be involved as the lead initiator for funding of Molymem. We like the business model and commercial approach taken by what is ostensibly a University Spin-Out.  This first tie up makes a strong strategic link between Manchester and Cambridge to enhance co-investment between different funding groups and the hope of more to come.”