A leading Huddersfield businessman has backed a new fund which offers health technology companies up to £1 million to develop life-changing medical innovations.

Richard Paxman OBE, CEO of Fenay Bridge-based Paxman Scalp Cooling, which developed a device to prevent hair loss in cancer patients, described the fund as an exciting opportunity for West Yorkshire.

Due to the emerging strengths of the region’s £5 billion health technology sector, the Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin has secured £7.5 million of new investment — hailed as a “gamechanger” for businesses and patients.

The funding will be distributed to businesses which can demonstrate that they will have a positive impact on patient care through an innovative new medical, diagnostic or digital health solution.

The new multi-million-pound partnership between the mayor and Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), comes days after £5 million was announced by UKRI for the medical technology sector across Yorkshire, which employs over 16,000 people across 250 companies.

Mayor Brabin said: “This groundbreaking new partnership is a major vote of confidence in the future of our brilliant healthtech businesses, who are transforming the lives of patients worldwide.

“That we were able to secure this funding is a testament to the strength of our sector, the talent of our homegrown scientists and researchers, and our ambition to transform the NHS through innovation.

“I’m confident these grants of up to £1 million will be a gamechanger for local businesses, helping them create skilled jobs, pioneer new technologies and level up patient care.”

Paxman Scalp Cooling has almost quadrupled its team from 25 to over 90 people over the past six years, with a large proportion of those working in West Yorkshire. It is now looking for a new larger base in Huddersfield.

Mr Paxman, private sector representative on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Business, Economy and Innovation Committee, said: “This is such positive news for the region and the sector, further strengthening an already exciting opportunity for West Yorkshire and the North.

“From experience, this type of non-dilutive funding provides such an impact for SMEs in our region and sector, reducing the risk of investment and expediting the lengthy pathway often leading to speedier commercialisation and therefore a positive impact both socially and financially to all stakeholders.

“In addition, it also can really attract future investment into companies from other sources, further supporting growth for the company and the region.

“West Yorkshire is an exciting place to be at the moment and I’m pleased to see further momentum in our sector.”

From the end of October, companies working on devices and technologies that could improve patient care will be able to apply for competitive grants ranging from £25,000 to £1 million.

The £7.5 million “launchpad” programme will help them develop the innovations all the way from the lab through to clinical trials and on to global health markets.

Eligible businesses include those seeking to help the NHS prevent, diagnose and treat major physical health conditions including cancer, strokes and dementia, as well as mental health conditions.

The competition will open in West Yorkshire on October 30 and close on December 13. After businesses submit bids for funding, these will be reviewed by Innovate UK by February 2024, with new projects expected to start in May 2024.

To find out more about the West Yorkshire healthtech launchpad competition visit: https://iuk.ktn-uk.org/programme/launchpads/

To sign up to a local stakeholder engagement session, visit: https://www.wyinnovationfestival.com/supercharging-wy-health-sector