The Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Medipex have established a network of Innovation Champions throughout the Yorkshire & Humber region. The Innovation Champion Network (ICN) aims to:
- Empower individuals to promote and support innovative activities within their NHS organisations;
- Encourage colleagues to come forward with their new and innovative ideas and inventions; and,
- Promote the spread and adoption of new best practice and new technologies between NHS organisations
The Network is supported by case study-led training; regular newsletters and workshops; a secure interactive web-portal and support from the Medipex and Yorkshire & Humber AHSN teams. The network was launched in early 2014 and has grown to over 60 active Innovation Champions across a range of NHS organisations including Acute, Mental Health, Community Trusts and CCGs.
Success to date has been demonstrated through increased numbers of innovation disclosures, a greater awareness of innovation and intellectual property (IP) issues amongst NHS staff and the personal development and satisfaction of the Innovation Champions.
There is no charge to join the Innovation Champion Network for any NHS organisation that is a member of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and/or Medipex.
Why does the NHS need Innovation Champions?
Thousands of novel, good ideas are generated by NHS employees every day across the UK, which have the potential to improve patient care and/or run services more efficiently. New inventions and services that contain IP have the potential to result in cost savings and/or revenue generation – beneficial at a time when the NHS is facing unprecedented financial and operational pressures. These ideas need to be carefully managed to reduce independent duplication of effort, and to receive the appropriate guidance along the development pathway, which often requires outside help.
As a first port of call, Medipex can provide hands-on assistance with reviewing new ideas and providing IP advice. However, the team need innovative people to present their ideas first! Innovation Champions can:
- Promote the awareness of the importance and benefits of protecting/developing innovative new ideas created by staff;
- Work with senior management, Medipex and the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN to develop a strategy to promote a culture of innovation; and
- Act as a focal point of contact within the NHS Trust for colleagues who have come up with a new idea.
Benefits of the Innovation Champion Network for Individuals and Organisations?
There are numerous benefits to having trained Innovation Champions embedded within NHS organisations. The more clinical areas that have an Innovation Champion, the more chances that the next great new medical breakthrough could be uncovered. From a commissioner perspective, having Innovation Champions with an understanding of IP and product development and collaborating within a network enables potential identification of new solutions for care pathways.
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN supports NHS organisations across Yorkshire & Humber to trial, evaluate and adopt innovative new products and services, and support these organisations to share their learning and emerging best practice ways of working throughout the region. To achieve this, the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN team work with NHS organisations to explore and understand their priorities and needs and how the use of new technology and/or service redesign could create solutions to these needs – accessing national funding to facilitate the cost of developing these new technologies. Innovation Champions can help here by getting involved in these work themes that are relevant or interesting to them. Having Innovation Champions within the regional network also allows organisations to adopt already tried and tested new best practice and ideas without going through the time and cost of developing them themselves.
Why become an Innovation Champion?
Innovation Champions are people who have an interest and passion for developing or implementing new ideas to improve services for patient benefit (and indeed anything new and innovative that allows staff to provide more efficient and safer patient care). They are drawn from a variety of disciplines and areas of expertise (for example nurses, executive directors, clinicians, R&D, business development managers). All have the support of their management to support them in their innovation activities. Requirements for an effective Innovation Champion include:
- An interest in and passion for innovation related to all aspects of improving health care;
- An appreciation of the value of opportunities to network with their peers in other organisations; and
- Strong ability to build relationships with people at all levels, resilience and flexibility
Individuals will need to spend some time (approx 6-10 days/year) on their Innovation Champion role alongside their normal duties, so support of line management is essential. We recommend that organisations opt to have more than one Champion to work together and share the responsibilities.
Medipex and Yorkshire & Humber AHSN provide foundation training in IP and the essentials of effective innovation management to empower Innovation Champions to speak with confidence on IP matters, promote innovation around their organisation and be a recognised point of contact for the initial discussion of innovative ideas and rapid access to further support & expertise. Additionally, becoming an Innovation Champion provides:
- Opportunity for personal development;
- Access to a range of networking events and workshops;
- Access to a secure web portal for opportunities, resources, forums etc.;
- Access to national networks to share learning and experiences and make new connections;
- Rapid access to Medipex support for IP advice, development of innovation strategies and project management for new ideas; and
- Access to a wealth of learning and opportunities via the AHSN regional and national network