The North East Innovation Lab, originally established as part of the region’s integrated Covid hub, has received an investment of £1.4 million to continue work on assessing and evaluating the next generation of diagnostic tests.
Part of Newcastle Hospitals, the lab is based in the Newcastle Helix life sciences quarter, and supports the development of the cutting-edge technology needed to detect viruses and other health threats.
The lab’s team of NHS scientists specialise in molecular biology, methodology and clinical research, with a client base including UK and international organisations, from university spin-outs to large multi-national corporations.
The new funding recognises the successful contribution the North East Innovation Lab has already made to evaluating new Covid-19 testing technologies.
Since launching in January 2021, the team has been in contact with over 70 organisations across the globe, from the UK to the USA and Australia, and has 36 projects in place with 17 companies.
Dr John Tyson, head of the North East Innovation Lab, said: “We are delighted to secure this £1.4 investment, which allows us to continue our work to ‘test the tests’, helping developers to ensure their products perform well and accurately.
“Since we launched, many of our projects have involved working to detect and contain Covid-19, playing a role in tackling the pandemic and developing new diagnostic technologies across the world.
“Work has now expanded beyond this, and we are proud to be playing a key part in the advancement of the some of the most innovative diagnostics under development to protect against future virus and health threats.
“We manage a significant ‘biobank’, which contains thousands of biological samples essential for ‘testing the tests’. These include Covid-19, blood, serum and saliva and we can also collect specific samples to fit with the needs of clients.”
The £1.4 million investment in the lab’s future has come from the Academic Health Sciences Network North East and North Cumbria and NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative.
Nicola Hutchinson, CEO of the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, commented:
“We are delighted to work in collaboration with Newcastle Hospitals and regional partners, to support the ongoing success of the North East Innovation Lab.
“The lab is fundamental to the evaluation and subsequently the accelerated adoption of innovations which will support economic growth and improve patient and population health, whilst supporting the reduction of health inequalities.”