New specialist lab to develop innovative ways of COVID-19 testing opens in Newcastle

Dr Caroline Wilson, from the Innovation Lab


A new specialist laboratory to develop innovative ways of COVID-19 testing has opened in Newcastle.

Based at The Biosphere in Newcastle Helix, and hosted by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Innovation Lab is staffed by expert scientists who are working to find quicker and easier ways to test for coronavirus.

The team will work with small, medium and large companies who are at different stages of developing new diagnostic approaches, but may be experiencing challenges accessing what’s needed for the next stage of research.

Dr Vicky Macfarlane-Reid, director for enterprise and business development at Newcastle Hospitals said:

“The innovation lab is specifically designed to bring together expertise across sectors and remove any barriers to developing new, improved ways of virus testing.

We know there are a lot of great ideas and there’s some very hard work going already. Our absolute focus to make it easier for doctors and scientists from across the NHS, academia and private sector to work together to make new diagnostics a reality as quickly as possible.

Dr Vicky Macfarlane-Reid, director for enterprise and business development at Newcastle Hospitals

“We want to get a step ahead in the fight - in the short term we’re focused on COVID-19 and in the long term we want to improve resilience for fighting any viruses that could hit us in the future. 

“Our potential industry partners could be from the region, elsewhere in the country or global organisations.”

 The lab’s first two projects are now underway:

  • Working with Newcastle’s RVI hospital to validate and verify a new point of care diagnostic test for Covid-19, developed by a global medtech company. 

  • Trials for a new piece of PCR Covid testing kit, which has the potential to analyse a sample within 30 minutes significantly faster than the usual time.

The innovation lab is part of the integrated Covid hub for the north east.