• Staff writer

Longevity economy in the UK being pioneered in Newcastle

Newcastle City Centre

A city region that invented the light bulb has continued to innovate to this day and now finds itself a test bed for research into healthy ageing

Newcastle in the North East of England may not be particularly well known to the US public at large, but it is punching way above its weight in terms of investment interest from the States. This is because the city is now seen by the global life science community as the regional center of a cluster of growing importance combined with its position as a unique test bed for research into healthy ageing. In terms of ageing, it is now recognized as a world leader in the sector which is increasingly causing global concern, and this has seen it develop close working relationships with counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab. Last year, Newcastle led a delegation to Boston, built around the North East’s expertise in ageing, nutrition, digital, science and tech with the aim of building strategic partnerships and sharing strengths. This led to the founder of the MIT AgeLab, Professor Joseph F Coughlin returning to Newcastle for five days to meet the region’s innovators. During his stay, he discussed the region’s knowledge and expertise in ageing, data science and urban partnerships. Both visits explored academic, civic, and business opportunities for growth and collaboration. With ageing now very much at the top of the global health agenda, Newcastle has taken the lead in considering economic opportunities and the challenges of supporting an ageing population, to help transform the quality of life for families, communities and the city. Newcastle University, one of the leading research-intensive Russell Group Universities in the United Kingdom, is at the forefront of the fight back against the issues presented by an increasingly elderly population with its Campus for Ageing and Vitality, widely recognised as one of the strongest assets in Europe for expertise in the field. The university’s reputation in the field has been enhanced in that it has devised a new model for developing, testing and bringing to market products and services that will improve quality of life. With co-investment from the UK Government, it launched the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) alongside the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD). Whereas research into ageing is seen as a key strength for Newcastle, there is little doubt that this is in part, due to it being the capital of the North East and the region’s $1.4 billion life science ecosystem. The North East is home to one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts, with more specialist services than any other group of hospitals outside London. Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust has also been recently rated “outstanding” for a second time, being just one of five in the country to get this rating twice. As such, it has developed a global reputation as a hot spot for clinical trials supported by pioneers at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities. The city is also home to the International Centre for Life established in 2000, where clinicians are pioneering science, particularly in the fields of genetics and fertility treatment, leading with the first three parent IVF treatment. The city’s Freeman Hospital is also renowned for performing the first successful UK infant heart transplant in 1987. More than 200 life science and healthcare companies base themselves in the region, including Newcastle headquartered QuantuMDx, who are providing transformative diagnostics and benefited from collaborating with Northumbria and Newcastle Universities, both world-leading in their fields. “Locating our HQ in the innovative North East – in preference to the ‘biotech golden triangle” of Oxford/Cambridge/London – was a conscious decision,” says Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx’s chief executive. “When we arrived in Newcastle in 2012, we found a city with an incredible genetics network alongside an excellent network of academic, industrial and key opinion leaders, all seeking to support a forward-looking young biotech company, with a global vision, that wanted to change the world. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities focus on this skill set offering numerous high-calibre graduates and postgraduates from all scientific disciplines including engineering, biology, chemistry and software development.” Such is the potential for this company that they’ve collaborated with key US partners including Intellectual Venture’s Global Good and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And QuantuMDx finds itself in good company in the area, with global companies such as P&G, Accord Healthcare, Nonlinear Dynamics (A Waters Company), MSD, Leica and Piramal located there. Jen Hartley, Inward Investment Director, Invest Newcastle, sums it up by saying: “The city has a vision to help people live well and independently for longer, adapting and creating new products and services to meet the needs of an ageing population. “With strengths in life science, we are seeing so many innovations and ideas that can improve health and the quality of life as we age. “We are one of the UK’s most competitive places to do business, but that isn’t just what is attracting businesses to our region, it’s our unique ecosystem, the talent and world-class research that is unpinned by an experienced and supportive business community. “Our city is fast becoming a test bed for innovation, and more and more businesses want to be part of that.” Newcastle is a city that thrives on fresh ideas. It is the city that really did invent the light bulb – and now it is ready to invent the future. To find out more about this UK city, contact Invest Newcastle on +44 (0)191 440 5761, email or visit

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