When Jason Taylor’s daughter Maggie was born, she needed major medical treatment for Hirschsprung disease at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. “We spent six months more or less living in the hospital,” he says.
Three years ago, when Maggie was seven, Jason took a job at Alder Hey, heading an innovative project to bring the hospital’s experts into contact with high tech companies to develop new medical products. “Our goal is to accelerate the impact of technological innovation on children,” he says. “It’s for them.”
The 1 000 square-metre Innovation Hub sits within the children’s hospital, bringing the tech companies into constant, convenient contact with doctors, surgeons and other specialists. Founded a century ago, Alder Hey opened entirely new facilities in 2015. The European Investment Bank, the EU bank, backed construction with a £55 million (€64 million) loan.
The state-of-the-art Alder Hey is impressive, says Jason, who is 45 and has a background in psychology. “We have the National Health Service’s Ferrari.”
Hub boosts UK medical innovation
The Innovation Hub, for which Jason is officially head of insight and engagement, works with over 100 companies, from giants like Sony, Philips and Microsoft to small firms and startups. The practical expertise of hospital professionals helps the technology companies refine new products quickly, so that they can start to make a difference in treatments for children.
Among its many innovations, the Hub has co-developed “transdermal sensors,” which check lactate levels in babies without the need to draw blood (“Children don’t like having blood drawn,” Jason notes, wryly), and highly detailed 3D printing for medical images, instead of two-dimensional imaging from X-rays or MRIs.
As well as the EU financing for construction of the hospital, the Hub received valuable funding from the European Regional Development Fund, a European Commission programme that invests in innovation and research. “This funding has an enormous impact,” says Jason. “Without that kind of investment, I don’t think we could have done the things we’ve achieved.”
One other benefit for Jason of his work at the Innovation Hub is that his daughter gets to learn about new developments in medical science on her frequent visits and passes them along to her classmates at school. “She’s the top boffin in her class,” he says.
Jason’s job is one of millions created across Europe with the support of the European Investment Bank, the EU bank. By 2021, investments signed by the EIB Group in 2017 alone are expected to have raised EU GDP by 1.1% and to have created 1.2 million jobs. Even in 2036, there will still be a 0.7% increase in EU GDP as a result of the EIB's 2017 investments, as well as 650,000 extra jobs. Jobs like Jason's.