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High-profile appointee to lead Birmingham’s Precision Health Technologies Accelerator

The University of Birmingham has announced the appointment of an experienced academic and industrial pharmaceutical professional to the position of Managing Director of its new Precision Health Technologies Accelerator (PHTA).

Professor Luigi ‘Gino’ Martini joins PHTA Ltd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University that will operate the new facility – from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) where he has held the role of Chief Scientist for more than three years. With extensive experience in oncology, rare and infectious diseases, and drug development, Gino also brings expertise in policy development and external advocacy to his new appointment in Birmingham.

Gino’s career began with Senior Scientist roles at Scherer Drug Delivery Systems and SmithKline Beecham, before joining GSK – initially as Drug Delivery and Strategic Technologies Manager – rising to Senior Directorships across a 10-year stint.

An experienced academic, Gino was formerly Professor of Pharmaceutical Innovation at King’s College London, as well as undertaking visiting professorships and PhD supervision alongside his industry roles. Prior to his appointment at the RPS, he held senior development and advisory positions with Shire Pharmaceuticals and Roche.

PHTA will be dedicated to the rapid development and translation of innovative therapies and technologies from concept to clinical evaluation. By creating new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and commercialise their ideas, it will enable advanced drugs, diagnostics and devices to reach patients more quickly. This signature facility will be the focal point of the forthcoming Birmingham Health Innovation Campus (BHIC) development, providing up to 6,000sqm of innovation, co-creation and incubation space within BHIC’s Phase 1 building.

Commenting on his appointment, Gino explained: “I see the PHTA as a place where innovators in health and life sciences will have global impact. I am a great believer in catalysing innovation through creating hubs where like-minded individuals can converge, connect and – in its simplest terms – ‘try things out’.

“COVID-19 has shown us that hybrid and multidisciplinary models of working really do work and this is my vision for the PHTA – an ecosystem which benefits from co-location of experts and budding entrepreneurs which also crosses boundaries and taps into skillsets and best practice of other UK regions. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining the project and forging these connections.”

Professor Tim Jones, University of Birmingham Provost and Vice-Principal, commented: “Through Birmingham Health Partners we have an established track record in collaborating with industry partners at start-up, scale-up, and global levels. The Precision Health Technologies Accelerator is the next stage in the journey towards cementing our position as a leader in the translation of research and innovation in health and life sciences.

“Gino’s leadership will be pivotal in achieving this aim, drawing on his considerable experience in both the pharmaceutical industry and in research-intensive academic environments. We are delighted to welcome him to Birmingham.”

Set to open in late 2023, BHIC is ambitious 10-acre, £210m development delivered through a long-term collaboration between the University of Birmingham, as landowner, and experienced investor-developers Bruntwood SciTech. It will be the only science park in the region dedicated to health and life sciences, offering premium laboratory, office and incubation facilities to companies specialising in medtech, precision medicine and digital healthcare.

As one of only six national Life Sciences Opportunity Zones, BHIC is attracting significant new inward investment to the region. This includes significant investment of up to £14m from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) which will support the design and fit-out of the state-of-the-art PHTA facilities.