Community 01.10.15

Minister announces second major partner for the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

In a speech at the AWRC conference on the Olympic Legacy Park, the Minister also outlined Government priorities on tackling obesity and encouraging physical activity – in particular noting the Government’s forthcoming new childhood obesity strategy.

In March 2015 the UK Government announced £14m of funding to help develop the AWRC. In May 2015 Toshiba signed up to be the first AWRC private sector partner in a £1.5m deal.

The aim of the AWRC is to create ‘innovations that help people move’, tackling the key issues of rising obesity and static levels of physical activity, whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.

Jane Ellison MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, said “Sheffield has a rich sporting heritage and it is a privilege to be here today to announce the second partner committed to making this venture a success.

“I am passionate about physical activity and the benefits it can bring to both physical and mental wellbeing. I look forward to seeing how innovation and research here in Sheffield can inspire the rest of the nation.”

Professor Steve Haake, Director of the AWRC, said “We are pleased to have the support of the UK Government and it was a pleasure to welcome the Minister. We are looking forward to working together on helping people move more, which is key to tackling obesity and increasing physical activity.

“Our partnership with Westfield Health will be hugely beneficial to our project and represents a major step forward. The AWRC will be the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world. Not only will it help a whole range of people become healthier, but it will also deliver high value jobs and new investment within our region.”

Westfield Health Executive Director David Capper, who is responsible for driving the company’s health and wellbeing strategy, said “We’re delighted to become the second major partner of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre.

“Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Sheffield City Council are all longstanding, loyal clients of ours, so we’re really excited to be 

embarking on this venture together and helping the local community to engage in physical exercise and develop healthier lifestyles.

“Westfield Health has been keeping people at their healthy best since 1919, supporting the NHS by helping people to access and pay for healthcare.

“One of the perceived benefits of the AWRC will be reduced dependency on the health service. At Westfield Health, we firmly believe that prevention is better than cure, so we work with our own staff and customers to promote the benefits of moving more as a way of improving their overall wellbeing wherever we can.

“As a not for profit health insurer, we’re proud to champion health and wellbeing, and we feel that the centre shares our  ethos and values with its focus on improving the wellbeing of the population through the use of innovation and cutting edge technology. This is a really proud moment for us and we’re really looking forward to working together on this pioneering project.”

Rt Hon Richard Caborn, project lead for the Olympic Legacy Park, said: “It’s an honour to welcome Jane Ellison MP, the Minister for Public Health, to Sheffield. Her visit demonstrates the Government’s continued support for the development of the Olympic Legacy Park and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre.

“We’re also delighted to secure the nationally-renowned Westfield Health as our second Tier One sponsor. The company is at the forefront of keeping people fit and healthy and will play a key role in helping to deliver our vision to develop the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, right here in Sheffield.

“It’s great to see the progress being made on site with the completion of the Oasis Academy and Remediation Contract. With the construction work due to start on the UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, it’s a hugely exciting time for this project, which is set to change the shape of future health for people living in Sheffield and beyond.”

The AWRC is setting up a partnership of around 20 companies and act as a hothouse of innovation, bringing together those who make things like apps, activity loggers, sports equipment, orthotics, and even clinical devices.

The AWRC conference brought together international businesses, representatives from the IoC, NHS executives and many others. It was held at the Oasis Academy, a new school for 1,200 two to 16-year-olds, which opened on the Olympic Legacy Park in September.