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Breaking ground on the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

AWRC turf cutting

Sir Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, has marked the start of construction work on Sheffield Hallam University's Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).

Set to become the most advanced research centre in the world for developing innovations that will improve population health and physical activity levels, the AWRC will form the centrepiece of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

In 2015, Westfield Health and Canon Medical Systems (formerly Toshiba Medical) were announced as the first major, private sector partners of the AWRC. parkrun became the AWRC’s third major partner in 2016 and will work together with their two million registered runners to improve their health and wellbeing.

David Capper, Commercial Director at Westfield Health said: “This is a great milestone for us.

“The primary aim of the AWRC is to create innovations that will improve health, tackling key issues such as static levels of physical activity, rising obesity and mental health.

“Working with a team of AWRC researchers, we are transferring learning and knowledge from elite sport into the wider population through innovative technology and interventions in the workplace and at home.”

The facility, which will open next year, is supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, who have committed £14million of funding to the project.

Delivered by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Legacy Park Ltd, the AWRC will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for 70 researchers to carry out world-leading research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the private sector, with a focus on taking services and products from concept to market.

It will also feature a 7.5m high indoor laboratory with cameras and tracking instruments, a biomechanics laboratory, diagnostic equipment such as MRI, CT, DXA and ultrasound, body composition measurement and physiological testing, a technology demonstrator hub and integrated NHS clinics. 

Sir Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, said: "I'm really looking forward to see what the AWRC is going to do for the NHS and for people's health. We have got to reverse the depending model and people depending on healthcare professionals, our doctors, nurses and clinicians.

"People need to take responsibility for their own health and are empowered by medical technology. I'm really fascinated to see the technology being developed for elite athletes and sport and this can be modelled and mass produced to enhance the lives of ordinary people to help them live longer and healthier lives."

Professor Steve Haake, Director of Sheffield Hallam's AWRC, said: "Working in collaboration with the private sector at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, our talented engineers and researchers will design new products and services from initial concept all the way through to market.

"This will cement Sheffield Hallam’s global reputation for putting the science into health and physical activity, but the AWRC will also be an exceptional asset for Sheffield and the wider region."

David Capper continued: “We look forward to continuing our work with the team at the AWRC, equipping the nation with the tools and opportunities to lead happy, healthy, independent lives.”

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