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13.05.05
Building Bridges conference is a huge success

A Government consultant has said Cornwall could be central to a move towards a national innovation centre for businesses working with health services.

Doctor Peter Greenaway made the comment at Cornwall's first health and business conference at the Knowledge Spa, which was a huge success attracting well over 100 delegates. Dr Greenaway is Director of the private consultancy Horus Research Management Ltd. In this role he acts as consultant to the Department of Health and is Director of the National Research and Development programme on New and Emerging Applications of Technology (NEAT) and the genetics research portfolio.

He was one of 15 speakers at the conference, Building Bridges, which was hosted by Cornwall Medi-Park Ltd and aimed to demonstrate to businesses the opportunities available to work with health services. Speakers at the half-day event also included representatives from already successful health-related businesses in Cornwall, as well as those involved with the £18.5 million Knowledge Spa and agencies and partnerships that aim to encourage business growth.

The Knowledge Spa is a partnership between the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Plymouth. Its aim is not only to teach healthcare professionals but to encourage research and development connected with private businesses.

In his talk Dr Greenaway congratulated the RCHT and the Peninsula Medical School on their foresight in developing the Knowledge Spa. He said that the way forward for both the DoH and businesses would be innovation and said the NHS was encouraging research and development in fields including community care and assistive devices to support the aging population, nanotechnology and robotics. He said the NHS was aiming for a national innovation centre and added: "I hope the Knowledge Spa will be able to be central to that activity."

Professor Colin Roberts, chairman of Cornwall Medi-Park Ltd, told delegates: "Building the health care industry in Cornwall is a global aspiration, requiring confidence to build on the breadth and depth of expertise which is clearly available."

Brian Milstead, chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said: "Becoming a partner in the Peninsula Medical School was the catalyst for the Trust to develop the Knowledge Spa and create much wider training and education opportunities for current and future staff."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Objective One Partnership, explained that the Knowledge Spa is part of the long term vision of greater wealth for the region via a knowledge-based economy. "We were bold enough and brave enough at the beginning of this challenge to create the flagship project of this multi-million pound Programme, the Combined Universities in Cornwall, which will be the long-term vehicle for regeneration for generations to come. And as part of this vehicle the Knowledge Spa has been developed. This provides a new root, a new foundation to support the growth of business opportunities in Cornwall."

Stephen Bohane of the South West Regional Development Agency also spoke on business support, particularly workspace. Both SWRDA and Objective One have invested in the Knowledge Spa business incubation units. It is hoped that once businesses in the units become more established they will move to the planned Medi-Park.

Representatives from local health related businesses included Gerry Brame, Director of Operations at West Pharmaceutical Services (Cornwall) Ltd, which manufactures many plastic and rubber products including syringe components and bottle stoppers. Demonstrating how successful health related businesses can be he said that every day, more than 8 million products are used around the world that have been produced at West's St Austell base.

Professor Roberts said that following the success of Building Bridges, further conferences would be organised, focussed around single themes. "The Building Bridges conference had been of value because, by bringing together people from many different backgrounds for the first time, it had raised awareness of the potential synergies which could benefit both the Cornish economy and healthcare generally. It had been successful in opening channels of communication between business, healthcare and academia which would otherwise have remained closed. Its success augurs well for the future."

For further information contact Clare Morgan, Objective One Partnership Office on 01872 223439 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in The Knowledge Spa through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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