Headshot of Dr. Penny Wilson

Dr Penny Wilson

UK Research and Innovation – Innovate UK

Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health and Social care in support of the COVID-19 pandemic

Innovate UK is the UK’s Innovation agency; its remit is to support businesses and grow the economy by stimulating innovation in science and technology. In April 2018, Innovate UK joined with the seven research councils and Research England to form UK Research and Innovation.

As part of the ISCF data to early diagnosis and precision medicine challenge team, which has a total budget of £210m, Penny leads on the digital pathology, imaging and AI activities and on the delivery of an integrated diagnostic portfolio. This has seen investment in a network of 5 Centres of Excellence in digital pathology, in-vivo imaging and AI and investment in 7 integrated diagnostics projects.

Penny also led Innovate UK’s precision medicine programme, which invested £60m in 76 companies collaborating with 40 Universities and 11 NHS Trusts. The programme worked across government, with NICE, regulators, and charities to address challenges and maximise R&D funding. Total investment was in excess of £200m.

In the infectious disease area, Penny has led multiple programmes in BEIS and across government and continues to be a judge and advisor for the Longitude Prize – which aims to decrease the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

In recent years, she has focused on all aspects of precision medicine, on diagnostic systems, from both a technical and societal perspective, and on the challenges of technology integration and adoption. Her expertise spans human, animal and plant diagnostics and she has considerable expertise in assessing the diagnostic and healthcare needs in both the developed and developing world.

Penny has spent over 25 years in the diagnostics industry, in a variety of senior technical and strategic roles. Appointments have included Senior Director of Advanced Technology Development for a company developing diagnostic systems for the doctor’s office, and Director of Technology Assessment and Acquisition for Siemens Healthcare. In Global Health Penny has advised the Bill & Melinda GATES Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the African Union.

Penny has a BSc (Hons) in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, a PhD in breast cancer biochemistry, and a Diploma in Industrial Studies. She lectures at the University of Cambridge on the MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise.

Other speakers in 2020

Plamen Peev


Plamen Peev

Co-Founder of Synerhub London
Business Development Manager at EnterCRM
Joanne Hackett

United Kingdom

Joanne Hackett

Head of Genomic and Precision Medicine, EMEA
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