The Innovation Futures programme, based at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), brings a diverse group of 17 young people into the health and wellbeing ‘innovation ecosystem’ to explore how they can play a part in developing businesses, products and services that improve population health.
This year’s participants include Kalana, from Sheffield, who said: "I am interested in roles focused on surgery and looking forward to meeting clinicians that will be speaking on the programme.”
Some of the organisations involved in delivering the sessions include:
- Social Enterprise Motion Exercise CIC, who use technology to increase physical activity and social connectiveness amongst older adults residing in care homes and community settings
- Local investor and business incubator Twinklhive, which supports startups in health and wider sectors
- The Yorkshire & Humber NIHR Clinical Research Network, which provides high quality research across the health and social care sector
- Local company Kingkraft, designers and manufacturers of assisted living products
- Clinicians from Sheffield Children’s hospital, alongside the NIHR CYP MedTech team, who help to support innovation across child health and paediatrics
- The South Yorkshire Integrated Care System Schools Engagement Team, which supports people looking to forge careers in the health and care sector regionally
The four-month youth careers and engagement programme aims to help each participant develop a pathway towards securing learning and career opportunities in one of the region’s key sectors. It is co-sponsored by Sheffield Hallam University and HGF Ltd, leading European intellectual property specialists with an office in Sheffield.
Each participant will receive an individually tailored plan to ensure they establish relevant and worthwhile contacts in the health and wellbeing sector and see a pathway for their future as part of it. Personal development funding to support their next steps will be available in the second phase of the programme. The group will also be invited to remain part of the AWRC community, acting as its youth voice and supporting patient and public engagement activities across its research and innovation portfolio.
Innovation Futures aligns with the Gatsby Foundation’s benchmarks of ‘Good Career Guidance’, which include learning from career and labour markets; addressing the needs of each individual; encounters with employers and employees; and personal guidance.
Jason Brannan, deputy director of Sheffield Hallam’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “Research has shown that Sheffield City Region has one of the largest health and wellbeing clusters in the country and, as a world leading research centre, the AWRC is integral to ensuring its growth for the benefit of all our citizens. Sheffield Hallam University has civic impact at its heart, so it also important that this opportunity is inclusive and that there are pathways to being a part of it for anyone, no matter where in the region they live.
“It is because of this the AWRC Innovation Futures programme is sharing real examples of people working across the sector from business to academia, clinicians who are at the forefront of research and entrepreneurs who are helping people to remain healthy in the community.
“Ultimately, we want to show the group the opportunity for them to be a part of this future, helping to drive its health and its wealth to address the inequalities we see today.”
Vanessa Stainthorpe, partner and DEI sponsor, HGF Ltd said: “We are committed to supporting initiatives around social mobility and tackling inequality in our society. This programme delivered by the team at the AWRC and Sheffield Hallam University will inspire, give support and a pathway to a group of young people in the Sheffield city region who may otherwise have not had the opportunity to think about careers in science and technology.”
The £16 million Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, based at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease and tackle inequalities through co-designed research into physical activity, whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.
The AWRC Innovation Futures programme aligns with Sheffield Hallam University’s Civic University Agreement commitment to partner with local communities to help tackle health inequalities and address specific health challenges.