In conversation…a new Healthtech Catalyst to accelerate innovation and economic growth

This month we interviewed Dr Liz Mear, Managing Director of Leeds Academic Health Partnership, about the region's new Healthtech Catalyst.

9 June 2021

The Leeds City Region is home to more than a fifth of the UK’s digital health jobs and hundreds of digital and healthtech businesses supplying the health and care sector.

As part of the cross-sector healthtech partnership, which the LEP is a signatory of, the newly launched Healthtech Catalyst will provide a wide range of support for businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, healthcare providers and commissioners and researchers to accelerate economic growth, catalyse the adoption of healthtech innovation across our region and meet the needs of our communities and patients.

Led by Leeds Academic Health Partnership, on behalf of the region, the Healthtech Catalyst will sit at the heart of our ambitions to a become a global healthtech hub.

This month we interviewed Dr Liz Mear, Managing Director of Leeds Academic Health Partnership, about the new Healthtech Catalyst. Liz explains its aims and the wide-ranging support it is offering to businesses, innovators, researchers and healthcare providers throughout the region.

Q1. Can you tell us about yourself, your role and your work with the Healthtech Catalyst?

I’ve had the privilege of working at leadership level across the public and private sector in roles which focus on transforming people’s lives and stimulating economic growth. After working in HR, local government and as an NHS trust CEO, I spent more than seven years as CEO of the Innovation Agency. There, we supported health and care businesses to draw down £3.85 million to create jobs, deploy innovative products in health and care and help strengthen the life sciences sector across the North West Coast.

I was delighted last year to become the first Managing Director for Leeds Academic Health Partnership, where I work with some of the most talented experts and leaders across the city and the region. Our shared ambitions are to transform health and care, reduce health inequalities and boost economic growth. Our new Healthtech Catalyst is central to those ambitions.

Q2. The Healthtech Catalyst’s aim is to accelerate healthtech innovation – how will this platform help to do that?

Our Healthtech Catalyst will catalyse and sustain new product development, research and innovation and help deploy these into health and care practice.

This requires deep and meaningful collaboration between partners. That means working together across different sectors, often involving different languages, cultures and ways of working.

Through events, workshops and direct introductions we will link people to expertise from industry, academia, the public sector, investor networks and entrepreneurs to stimulate innovation and commercialisation.

This will include very practical support such as access to information, advice and guidance, advice about product pitching, being investor-ready and economic modelling, and workforce skills and training. This will be delivered from a range of providers including the LEP’s Connecting Innovation programme.

Q3. How do you think healthtech innovation will support our region’s economic recovery?

Our City Region is already an outstanding healthtech hub and these businesses are a vital part of our region’s economic recovery, offering new and better ways to provide care. But we need to accelerate economic growth and grasp the opportunities in front of us now to realise our region’s full potential.

As businesses increasingly bring innovative healthtech products to market which address the needs of our residents and our healthcare system, we support those businesses to thrive and grow. That leads to job creation, more inward investment and more companies locating in our region.

Health technologies can also relieve the pressure on, and the costs of, our precious health and care services.

And, if people have a job with a good wage, they are better able to afford healthier lifestyle choices such as a healthy diet and good housing. Healthy people can be more productive at work and are likely to enjoy healthier lives for longer. Health is wealth in action.

All of these factors stimulate the economy, which is great news for all communities.

Q4. What is your personal ambition for healthtech innovation?

I’m sure my personal ambitions for healthtech innovation are shared by many others. Health technologies can ultimately save lives. And that’s where it gets really meaningful.

I’ve been privileged to play a part in the successful deployment of technologies that have done this. For example, technologies which have helped prevent strokes, relieved chronic pain or reduced the number of children born with cerebral palsy. These are huge life-changers for people and their families. What more meaningful ambition could there be for helping drive the adoption of healthtech?

It’s also personally thrilling to help a company’s health technology grow from an idea to a commercialised, rolled-out product. For those innovators and businesses willing to take forward their venture, see it succeed and their businesses grow, it’s just another kind of life-changer.

I’m excited to be working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners to develop a new Healthtech Strategy to set out our aspirations to deliver the healthtech agenda to drive both economic and health outcomes.

Q.5 Can you describe what innovation means to you in five words?

Creative, brave, novel, exciting, life-changing.

For more information and to register for free with the Healthtech Catalyst, visit:


Connecting Innovation is delivered by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.