Building a collaboration between renowned hospitals, a world-class university and an independent business is complex. In HSL, we have a partner who understands that sometimes things can’t be rushed, that there needs to be a long-term plan and, above all, a strategy that focuses on research.
We work in a pioneering and academically-rich research environment, and so the relationship we’re attempting to build here is unique. Several public organisations and an independent one, work in harmony so that the organisation as a whole can act as a catalyst for innovation.
As medical director of the Royal Free Hospital, I’m also on the HSL board and chair the innovations sub-committee. Its focus is to ensure that the academic voice is powerfully registered within the work that will be done over the coming years. And that confidence has been boosted by HSL’s determination to support research and invest in the future. There’s no better demonstration of that than the extraordinary state-of-the-art facilities at the Halo laboratory, where a myriad of academic departments will be able to benefit from information and data generated there.
There are things UCL can do that HSL doesn’t have the expertise for, and there are things HSL can provide that UCL can’t. It’s a win-win partnership in which all our skills are working in harmony.
For instance, in an era of big data we need to invest in a robust analytics process. The data is there but we need to mine and study it properly – especially in my field, renal medicine. Data from blood tests can tell us so much about why kidney failure occurs, where the clusters are and allows us to predict rather than simply react. By bringing our different skills together, by learning from each other, by sharing expertise – that’s how to catalyse innovation.
Equally, in genetics and the sequencing of people’s genomes, academics want to drive the research and don’t want their work to be dictated to by an outside organisation. HSL supports rather than controls, empowering academic research as we begin to commoditise genetics.
It’s early days but all the mechanisms are in place for a truly powerful collaboration.