At a panel event on Thursday (18 May), speakers from the University emphasised how healthcare must be a central pillar for regional growth and regeneration plans, underlining the sector’s huge and nascent potential to impact a broad scope of economic growth drivers, including education, jobs, skills investment, health outcomes, and regeneration.
South Yorkshire is home to a world-leading life sciences and healthcare cluster, including assets like Sheffield Hallam’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) and National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering, both based at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park (SOLP), the university's Early Years Community Research Centre (EYCRC) in Shirecliffe, and future developments such as the Sheffield Children’s Hospital National Centre for Child Health Technology, also at the SOLP.
The UKREiiF session, led by South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard, Professor Sally Pearse, Sheffield Hallam’s Strategic Lead for Early Years and Director of EYCRC, and Jason Brannan, Deputy Director of the AWRC, shed light on the potential of health investments in driving regional growth, transforming communities and improving health outcomes.
Key discussion points of the How Health Can Drive Growth session included:
- The AWRC’s place at the heart of Darnall, an underserved community, and its ability to use hyper-local impactful research to address health inequalities as a driver to effect skills, jobs and productivity and the wider social determinants of health (including income, education, employment, food security, housing, amenities, environment and wellbeing)
- The importance of supporting the whole family in the early years as an effective way of addressing health inequalities, and how early support ‘makes sense morally and economically’ as helping parents is the most effective way of changing outcomes for young children.
- Nurseries as an underused resource for addressing health inequalities – a service that is not a short-term or a targeted intervention, builds a trusting relationship with families and communities and can be a powerful vehicle for addressing the social determinants of health. The EYCRC’s parent-run Breakfast Club is an example of this work and the positive impact that it has had on parental confidence and mental health
- The AWRC’s place on the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, an environment that is porous both for research and the community
- How this facilitates the AWRC’s business programme, from acceleration through to long-term collaborations with companies such as Canon and Pfizer, as a driver for productivity and growth
Jason Brannan, Deputy Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre is an example of how investment in health can drive economic prosperity. By bringing together academia, industry and healthcare providers, the AWRC fosters collaboration and innovation, resulting in the development of cutting-edge solutions that improve health outcomes and stimulate economic growth. The centre's state-of-the-art facilities and interdisciplinary approach position South Yorkshire as a world leader in the field of health and wellbeing research.”
The Early Years Community Research Centre is providing up to 40 full-time nursery places for children aged two to three in the Shirecliffe area of Sheffield. It is a hub for innovative early years learning and care alongside multi-disciplinary on-site research, bringing together academic research capacity, community-focused education and care, and expert knowledge from the children’s charity sector.
Professor Sally Pearse, Director of the Early Years Community Research Centre, said: “The Early Years Community Research Centre is a blueprint for how regional anchor institutions can come together to improve lives, especially in the underfunded and under-resourced area of early years. In the two years since we opened, we can see the positive impact of our partnership working on families and young children.”
The National Centre for Child Health Technology, developed by Sheffield Children's Hospital, aims to develop the world’s most advanced and integrated healthcare system for children and young people. Its research will focus on addressing key national child health priorities including prevention and health inequalities, children's mental health, and obesity.
South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said: “Illness and poor health are holding us back. Too many of us in South Yorkshire are getting too sick, too young; that’s not inevitable, and yet it’s holding our economy back for years. Chronic disease is one of the main reasons for our productivity problem. But quite simply I’ve had enough of that problem being seen as too difficult to fix.
“It’s my job as South Yorkshire’s Mayor to make our communities better off, and that must include making sure we fix big, complex problems - not least the challenge of health inequalities. That’s why I’ve become the first Mayor to become Chair of an Integrated Care Partnership, and that’s why we’ve brought in world experts and leaders - including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Harvard University and Sir Michael Marmot’s team - to address the entrenched problems we face. I have committed to making South Yorkshire the healthiest region in the country. With the help of our partners, we are well on our way and I’m determined to finish that job.”
UKREiiF connects people, places and businesses to accelerate the Levelling Up Agenda, whilst unlocking sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment across the UK. The three-day event brings together the public sector – with every core UK city and region involved – alongside Government, investors, funders, developers and house builders.