Launching Zinc’s new Innovation Fellowships in Health and Care
This programme builds on our previous work supporting scientists from different disciplines and career stages to explore research opportunities and research careers in ventures. It is clear to us that researchers bring a range of transferable and valuable skills to early-stage innovation, and we see huge potential for ventures to be a valued and attractive destination for researchers.
The programme is being funded by NIHR and The Dunhill Medical Trust, two organisations for whom the development and mobility of health and care researchers is a key priority.
The NIHR is committed to increasing the number of researchers and clinical academics who are equipped with the skills to work at the interface of academia, the NHS and industry, and therefore able to contribute to the translation of ideas into new treatments and products from which patients can benefit.
Dr Pete Thompson, Director of Programmes at NIHR, said: ‘We’re delighted to be partnering with Zinc to provide NIHR Academy Members with the opportunity to experience working in innovative commercial environments. We hope this will cultivate their entrepreneurial skills and strengthen relationships between academia, the health and care sector and industry.
NIHR are continuing to fund five NIHR Academy Members while they take time out of their current training programmes to undertake this industry placement:
Fiona Ng, an NIHR Advanced Fellow and mental health services researcher with 10 years’ experience of developing mental health interventions for people with serious mental illness.
- Speaking of the Fellowships Fiona said: ‘The Innovation Fellowship is an invaluable opportunity to gain skills in translating theoretical knowledge into product design and implementation. I’m looking forward to learning how to start and run a start-up and developing new collaborations with the commercial sector.’
Pasha Normahani, a vascular surgeon and NIHR Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
- Speaking of the Fellowships Pasha noted: ‘I am inspired by Zinc’s healthcare mission and excited to contribute to and learn from their transformative work in healthcare.’
Rashmi Patel, a Senior Clinical Lecturer and NIHR Advanced Fellow at KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and an honorary consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
- Rashmi expressed his excitement for the Fellowships: ‘As a psychiatrist, I have first-hand experience of the detrimental impact that mental disorders can have on affected individuals and their families, so I am particularly excited to work with Zinc VC as an NIHR Innovation Fellow to accelerate the development of new products to improve mental health.’
Ruth Plackett, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the NIHR School of Primary Care at UCL with a background in psychology and expertise in mental health research.
- Ruth shared her thoughts on the Fellowship: ‘I am really looking forward to starting my Innovation fellowship with Zinc. This is such a great opportunity for academics to work with and learn from industry partners. I hope that the skills I learn, and the collaborations I make, will help my future research to have much more impact for patients and the public.’
Sofia Llahana, a clinical academic at City, University of London, and an Hon Consultant Nurse in Endocrinology at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with expertise in UX research and human computer interaction.
- Looking forward to the Fellowships, Sofia stated: ‘I am very excited to join Zinc in this new role where I can consolidate and enhance the wide range of skills that I have acquired throughout my career. Stepping out of my comfort zone to work in the fast-paced commercial sector and early-stage innovation projects is a rare opportunity for a clinical academic; thank you Zinc and NIHR!’
The Dunhill Medical Trust commented: “We see the Innovation Fellowships in Healthy ageing as an opportunity to support our Fellows to broaden their experience of research and to help them consider what career path might be right for them. By supporting post-doctoral researchers who are active in healthy ageing to explore and experience research in different contexts, we can ensure that researchers are inspired to continue working in the field of healthy ageing, whether that be within academia, industry, or elsewhere.”
The Dunhill Medical Trust are funding two researchers with a strong interest in improving the quality of later life:
Aaron Kandola, a senior data scientist, health researcher, and medical writer specialising in using technologies, AI, and lifestyle medicine for preventing and managing chronic mental and physical health conditions.
- Aaron shared more ahead of the Fellowships starting: ‘I am excited to bridge the industry-academia gap by working with Zinc to build socially impactful, tech-driven ventures that promote healthy ageing.’
Mark Crook-Rumsey, a cross-disciplinary researcher with Imperial College London and King’s College London, currently leading a project to develop digital technologies for remote health monitoring of patients with Motor Neurone Disease.
- Mark noted his interest in the Fellowships: ‘At the intersection of research and real-world impact, I applied to the fellowship to help drive meaningful change for our ageing population. I look forward to learning from and contributing to the ambitious projects that are helping us to lead healthy, longer lives.’
These Fellowships provide an opportunity for researchers to build new knowledge, experience, and networks in health and care innovation. Fellows will spend time in-house with Zinc and with our health ventures, working in hands-on roles and gaining immersive experience. They will work with ventures on various aspects of product development and testing, user research, evaluation, data analysis and research partnerships. Fellows will also learn from each other as part of a cohort, and receive training, mentorship and guidance from Zinc to support their personal and professional journey.
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Impact Report 2023
We started Zinc with the hypothesis that missions are an effective way to attract highly ambitious, talented and experienced groups of innovators, who might not recognise themselves as “classic entrepreneurs” but are ready and able to start a new commercial and successful venture to tackle some of our most pressing societal issues.
The world has overcome the sorts of challenges we face today when it has adopted a mission-based approach to the biggest problems and brought together world-class talent to invent and innovate, e.g: NASA and landing a man on the moon, the LSE blueprinting the British welfare state, or the Gates Foundation aiming to eradicate diseases.
On this basis and assumption, we designed Zinc as a new mission-based Venture Builder — a place where global talent, ‘impact makers’, can join to experiment and develop new solutions to our most pressing societal issues.
To Eliminate Environmental Threats to Our Health
Environmental health threats pose a grave danger to human health and well-being, causing suffering to individuals and communities worldwide. These threats, which include chemical pollution, climate change, and biological hazards, cause acute and chronic diseases and exacerbate existing health conditions.
To protect those we care about, we must tackle the causes of environmental degradation, shield people from the consequences of environmental harm, and, where protection fails, we must mitigate the health impacts they suffer.
This demands action to improve all aspects of our environment: soil, food, air, water, and the built environment. It requires us to focus on every aspect of human health to reduce suffering.
Entrepreneurship and technology are powerful means to tackle these challenges. That’s why we are backing 70 founders to build innovative companies addressing this mission.