We support innovators in Wessex and wider to develop their innovations and demonstrate impact, leading to adoption here and across the UK. We provide a consistent, universal offer to innovators, which includes assessment and triage, advice and guidance, and signposting. 

Our national AHSN pipeline and portfolio approach now includes over 1500 innovations receiving structured support into the NHS. Projects receive support at each of the three main stages: 

Discover: the creative process of generating and developing ideas into tangible proposals for progressing through the innovation pathway

Develop: developing the innovation’s market readiness and deploying into selected locations to test that the technology or service design works in a real-world setting

Deploy: linking to commissioning processes and rolling out the innovation to NHS organisations at scale. 

Our work with Wessex Cancer Alliance to accelerate innovation adoption for earlier cancer diagnosis has included horizon scanning and collaboration with local, regional and national cancer diagnostic teams to identify and share ideas that meet system priorities. We’ve continued to support the spread of locally successful and nationally approved innovations, working collaboratively with our innovation adoption and evaluation specialists to provide a holistic service.

What was delivered in 2022-23? 

  • Wessex AHSN supported over 260 innovators from commercial, clinical and academic backgrounds. We were the lead AHSN supporting over 150 of these.
  • Innovators responses to our annual survey indicated economic growth of over £31m in the last 12 months, and 81 jobs created or safeguarded.
  • We continued to deliver our Health Innovation Programme, a four-day incubator programme for 12 innovators from within and outside NHS services.
  • We ran our NHS business ecosystem masterclass – four 1-day workshops delivered at Porton Science Park for early-stage innovators.
  • We delivered a series of evening events on developing business cases for NHS services and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
  • 30 panel-based surgeries for innovators
  • Through our Funding Support Service, we supported 31 grant application reviews before submission, and three mock interviews; nine successful applications totalling £3.3m
  • 12 market appraisals on behalf of local NHS organisations
  • We worked with NHS England and NENC AHSN to ensure successful launch of the NHS Innovation Service public beta platform. Working with over 260 innovators and 26 support organisations to ensure innovations were correctly and rapidly allocated. Read how the service has supported AlphaBiomics to make connections for funding, evaluation and patient engagement for their diagnostic innovation.
  • Processed over 250 innovations, with 100% of innovators contacted within two days.
  • Set up the NHS Innovation Service Needs Assessment Service and introduced over 250 submissions to appropriate support organisations via this platform. Wessex AHSN Programme Manager Gemma Snell provided a set of quick tips for innovators completing their record.
  • Explored 68 innovations for earlier cancer diagnosis
  • We supported five Wessex teams to develop or deliver early cancer innovation pilots, and helped secure over £800,000 in grant funding for pilots to take place in 2023-24.
  • We supported two successful grant applications for innovations supporting earlier cancer diagnosis.

Examples of innovator support in 2022-23: 

  • Supported first clinical use of a non-contact blood pressure technology, providing critical learning for the innovator, and leading to treatment in some previously undiagnosed hypertensive patients.
  • Supported a local university spin-out to successfully apply for a £1.2m grant to develop their research into a commercially-viable ureteric stent, and continued intensive support to set up the development programme, introduce to delivery partners and fund training in the regulatory skills required for this next stage.
  • An innovator we had introduced to the NHS Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Committee went on to develop and implement a quality auditing tool for them which has been commissioned nationally in each devolved administration. This year we have been evaluating its implementation and impact, for both the Committee and the innovator (funded by Wessex AHSN).
  • Supported an innovator to successfully apply to the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI Healthcare) to develop their concept for a novel design of spinal needle, to reduce the rate of spinal anaesthesia failure, and continued to support them throughout the programme to develop skills needed and meet partners for support.

Attendees at the Health Innovation Programme four-day intensive course

  • Twelve early-stage innovators attended our four-day incubator programme, giving excellent feedback on the impact they expected it to have on their progress. A further 14 attended our four one-day masterclasses, with similar feedback.
  • We delivered three locally driven pilots for early cancer innovations. The piloted innovations were electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (ENB) for lung biopsies, a cancer clinical decision support tool called C the Signs, and EndoSign, a fast and simple oesophagus health test, helping to detect signs of pre-cancer and other diseases.
  • We also supported two nationally funded projects trialling innovations to detect cancer earlier. These involved Cytosponge, a new diagnostic test to help identify signs of oesophageal cancer, and colon capsule endoscopy, a new procedure for examining the colon, which can be used as an alternative to a colonoscopy.  

“The NHS Innovation Service has been very helpful for us so far, providing crucial connections to different organisations, and specific individuals and teams within those organisations."          


Healthcare Innovation Sandbox; Building Knowledge Transfer Partnerships event

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