Over the years Birmingham has earned a number of nicknames, including The City of a Thousand Trades and The Motor City.
Fast-forward to 2016 and we’re making our mark in a new arena: life sciences.
That’s why I was delighted to be part of an event that showcases the academic and clinical expertise that we have right here in Birmingham, as the Institute of Translational Medicine was formally opened on 5 October.
From the Industrial Revolution onwards, Birmingham has always led where others have followed and that continues to be the case today. The Institute of Translational Medicine now puts Birmingham firmly at the centre of the exciting Life Sciences agenda.
In practical terms, that means it’s perfectly plausible that our city could be the battleground for decisive victories against prostate cancer, leukaemia and diabetes.
I don’t say that lightly.
The centre will help progress the very latest scientific research findings from the University into enhanced treatments for patients across a range of major health issues, building on Birmingham’s excellent track record in clinical trials by increasing capacity and enabling more patients to be co-located alongside clinicians and researchers. It will also make it easier for both SME and large pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to work more closely with clinicians and academics, bringing additional investment into the city.
And this city has all the ingredients to make its mark in clinical research. Our diversity, our National Health Service and the great practical minds of our universities and hospitals create the perfect platform for success.
That triangle of health, wealth and opportunity puts Birmingham in an almost unique position and the success of the Institute of Translational Medicine will be built upon those foundations.
Brummies will be partners in this process and the people of this city will also be the first and most immediate recipients of any medical breakthroughs.
New facilities, such as the Institute of Translational Medicine, the Life Sciences Campus development at Battery Park and the Birmingham Phenome Centre, will further strengthen the platform we are building for world-leading research and academic-business collaboration in the region.
Not only that, but our growing strength in this sector will create jobs in medical research and development, pharmaceuticals and advanced medical device manufacturing. This is an example of jobs being created outside the city centre as part of a 40-ward investment strategy.
The Institute will raise the profile of Birmingham – not just nationally but internationally, and I have no doubt that this is just the start of another exciting chapter in our history.
Who knows, the City of a Thousand Trades may one day be the City of a Thousand Cures.