Breaking New Ground On The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

UTC Sheffield students are set to benefit from the latest developments on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

The UTC helped to host and celebrate the start of construction work on Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) this week.

Set to become the most advanced research centre in the world for developing innovations that will improve population health and physical activity levels, the AWRC will form the centrepiece of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Dr Sarah Clark, Principal of UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus, said: “Through creating close links with the AWRC, we will inspire and support our students to enter the healthcare and technological jobs of the future. These progression routes will address current and future challenges around ensuring the health and wellbeing of the population of Sheffield, as well as nationally.”

She added: “The UTC’s support of the groundbreaking event earlier this week emphasises the importance and benefits of the business and educational partnerships on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, and the positive impact those will have on our young people and their future.”

UTC Sheffield recruits 13 to 19-year-olds across Sheffield City Region, and specialises in computing, health sciences and sports science.

Students complete a technical qualification alongside GCSEs and A Levels. The UTC has been oversubscribed for Year 9 and Year 10 places. Some Year 12 places are still available for this September. Visit https://www.utcsheffield.org.uk/apply/

The AWRC, which will open next year, is supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, who have committed £14million of funding to the project.

Delivered by the University in partnership with Legacy Park Ltd, the AWRC will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for 70 researchers to carry out world-leading research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the private sector, with a focus on taking services and products from concept to market.

It will also feature a 7.5m high indoor laboratory with cameras and tracking instruments, a biomechanics laboratory, diagnostic equipment such as MRI, CT, DXA and ultrasound, body composition measurement and physiological testing, a technology demonstrator hub and integrated NHS clinics.

Sir Malcolm Grant, Chair of NHS England, said: “I’m really looking forward to see what the AWRC is going to do for the NHS and for people’s health. We have got to reverse the depending model and people depending on healthcare professionals, our doctors, nurses and clinicians.

“People need to take responsibility for their own health and are empowered by medical technology. I’m really fascinated to see the technology being developed for elite athletes and sport and this can be modelled and mass produced to enhance the lives of ordinary people to help them live longer and healthier lives.”

The AWRC will form a key part of Sheffield City Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) – a 2,000-acre centre of excellence for innovation-led research and industrial collaboration. Sitting alongside Sheffield Hallam’s National Centre for Food Engineering, the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Research and Innovation Centre and the Centre for Child Health Technology, the AWRC will create interventions and solutions that have real-world application.

It has also been highlighted as a key contributor in the Sheffield City Region vision, which forms a cornerstone for the future of health and wellbeing in the region.

Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Improving population health is one of the great challenges of our time.  Through the AWRC, Sheffield Hallam is leading work that has the potential to transform the health of the nation. Co-locating research and innovation alongside education, health, leisure and business will help to contribute to economic growth and the quality of life in and beyond the region.”

The primary aim of the AWRC is to create innovations that will improve health, tackling key issues such as static levels of physical activity, rising obesity and mental health whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.

The event also heard about the announcement of a new collaboration to enable current and future Olympic Legacy Park partners to work closer together. Chaired by Sheffield Hallam University, a ‘Health Innovation Partnership’ will see members collaborating on priorities including incorporating research and innovation, acting as a lobby group for the future development of the Olympic Legacy Park and developing joint funding bids. The partnership will be key to future developments.

Professor Steve Haake, director of Sheffield Hallam’s AWRC, said: “Working in collaboration with the private sector at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, our talented engineers and researchers will design new products and services from initial concept all the way through to market.

“This will cement Sheffield Hallam’s global reputation for putting the science into health and physical activity, but the AWRC will also be an exceptional asset for Sheffield and the wider region.”

Through the AWRC’s close links with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, researchers will be able to work with the population of Sheffield and use local communities to explore and test the potential of new innovations and products developed at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

The Rt Hon Richard Caborn, Project Lead for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and former Minister of Sport, said: “This is a hugely important step for us in realising our ambition to create a world-leading environment for collaborative research and innovation in health and wellbeing and in driving forward the delivery of the 2012 Olympic legacy. It’s a very exciting day and with construction of the AWRC underway we will look forward to the development of further research centres which are set to transform our understanding of health, wellbeing and sport even further.”

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