North East Life Sciences Conference 2024: Take a look at the event's five panels

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We have put together a breakdown of the 2024 North East Life Sciences Conference's panels.

Members of the life sciences industry in the region came together at The Catalyst, in Newcastle city centre, for the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024.

The event, which was on Thursday, March 21, gave those who attended the chance to network and share their ideas with each other.

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As part of the day, five panels were held on a number of topics - in which, key decision-makers, life sciences business leaders and influential media personalities offered their thoughts and opinions.

The five panels at the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024 included:

  • The economic future for life sciences.

  • Skills for the future.

  • Digital health and health technology.

  • Adopting new technologies.

  • Sustainability.

Following the event, which was hosted by National World, we've put together a breakdown of each panel.

Five panels were held throughout the day at the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024. Photo: National World.Five panels were held throughout the day at the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024. Photo: National World.
Five panels were held throughout the day at the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024. Photo: National World. | National World

The economic future for life sciences

The first panel of the day was chaired by Sam Whitehouse, the conference's keynote speaker and the chief executive of LightOx.

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Sam was joined on the panel by Sarah Gibbs, a senior associate and patent attorney at Appleyard Lees, Professor Andy Hall, the chief scientific officer at Rarecan, and Jennifer Hartley, director at Invest Newcastle.

The panel touched on how the life sciences industry in the North East can remain competitive on a global scale and what strategies different organisations can use to attract potential investment.

Intellectual property (IP) protection was also at the forefront of the discussion, with the panel sharing ideas amongst themselves and the room about how companies can leverage IP strategies to maximise their economic value.

Finally, the panel took a look at how the North East can capitalise on new technologies, such as AI, to enhance economic growth, attract investment and position the region as a hub for cutting-edge research and development.

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A total of 13 exhibitors were at the event. Photo: National World.A total of 13 exhibitors were at the event. Photo: National World.
A total of 13 exhibitors were at the event. Photo: National World. | National World

Skills for the future

The second panel at the North East Life Sciences Conference was titled "Skills for the future".

Hosted by Professor Vikki Rand, director of the National Horizons Centre (NHC) at Teesside University, the panel aimed to recognise the pivotal role of skills to shape the future of life sciences.

Joining Professor Rand was Jackie Lanagan, assistant principal curriculum and partnerships at East Durham College, David Powell, director at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, and Dr Matthew Forshaw, reader in data science at Newcastle University.

Panellists were invited to give their opinions on the "most pressing current skill gaps" in the North East life sciences industry and how these skill gaps will evolve as technology continues to advance.

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The speakers agreed that curriculum development by training providers can be tailored to meet the needs of the life sciences and biotech sectors.

There was also an emphasis that apprenticeships, flexible training programs and funding mechanisms will play a key role in ensuring that the life sciences industry is well-equipped with the necessary skills going forward.

Digital health and health technology

National World's own Laura Collins, publisher for the company's CityWorld titles, was the chair for the conference's third panel of the day.

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Digital health and heath technology aimed to give an insight into health economics and the adoption of new healthcare technologies.

Joining Laura on stage was Dr Ashmita Randhawa, director of R&D at Sunderland Software City, Dr Gurdeep Sagoo, senior lecturer in health economics at Newcastle University, Abi Durrant, co-director at the Northern Health Futures Hub, and Mark Walsh, portfolio manager at Health Innovation North East and North Cumbria.

The panel took a dive into how life sciences companies can determine the value of AI-enabled technologies, particularly in healthcare.

This was balanced against how we can ensure that medical professionals don't lose the human touch which is at the heart of healthcare when using these new AI-based technologies.

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Speaking after the panel, Dr Randhawa praised the passion of those who took part in the discussion at the North East Life Sciences Conference.

She commented: "I had the privilege of sitting on a panel with some fantastic colleagues from Newcastle University and the NHS.

"It is actually fantastic to hear about the single-minded focus on wanting to work together and bring the region together when thinking about innovation and skills, particularly about the incorporation of digital technologies for the life sciences and health sector."

The North East Life Sciences Conference 2024 has been held in Newcastle. Photo: National World.The North East Life Sciences Conference 2024 has been held in Newcastle. Photo: National World.
The North East Life Sciences Conference 2024 has been held in Newcastle. Photo: National World. | National World

Adopting new technologies

The first panel of the afternoon session was chaired by the conference's host, Herb Kim.

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Herb, who is the founder of the Thinking Digital Conference and TEDxNewcastle, was joined by Esther Gillepsie, CEO of Jumping Rivers, Dr Noura Al Moubayed, associate professor at Durham University's Department of Computer Science, and Dr Shadi Farhangrazi, the CEO of S.M. Discovery Group.

Much like the day's previous panels, AI technology was at the forefront of the discussion as those taking part explored how professionals can leverage AI and emerging technologies to tackle healthcare challenges.

There was also a discussion around integrating such technologies, ethical considerations, and maximising human-AI synergy for improved patient care.

Part of this discussion involved how professionals can navigate the challenges of integrating emerging technologies into already existing and established healthcare systems.

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The speakers also gave an insight into how new technology, such as AI, can be successfully adopted and implemented while maintaining patient safety and privacy.

The day provided an opportunity for organisations in the Life Sciences industry to network with each other. Photo: National World.The day provided an opportunity for organisations in the Life Sciences industry to network with each other. Photo: National World.
The day provided an opportunity for organisations in the Life Sciences industry to network with each other. Photo: National World. | National World

Sustainability

The final panel at the North East Life Sciences Conference 2024 was titled "Sustainability" and hosted by Nicola Adam, the editor in chief (North) at National World.

Nicola was joined for the last discussion of the day by Dr. Shahid Rasul, an assistant professor at Northumbria University, Ian Brown, founder of Chestnut Natural Capital, and Russ Watkins, commercial director at Health Innovation North East and North ​Cumbria.

The session explored crucial topics which are at the intersection of sustainability and life sciences.

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During the talk, the panellists discussed strategies for integrating sustainability principles into life sciences research and practice, driving positive environmental impact and societal benefit.

Part of this discussion focused on the key opportunities and challenges that exist when adopting safer, more sustainable materials for use within the life sciences industry.

There was also a focus on how infrastructure in the North East could be leveraged to promote sustainability initiatives within the life sciences sector.

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