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Spreading Innovation, Improving Health and Stimulating Economic Growth

Posted: 4th March 2019

Dr Neville Young, Director of Enterprise and Innovation, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network explains how the AHSN Network creates the right environment for innovators and industry to work effectively with health and social care providers.

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is one of 15 AHSNs set up by NHS England in 2013 and relicensed in April 2018 to operate as the key innovation arm of the NHS.

We’re committed to making it easier and quicker to implement innovations that are better for patients and deliver efficient and cost-effective treatments and services.

We’re supporting the NHS to deliver a step-change in the rapid identification, adoption and spread of best practice, clinical innovations and new technologies to meet the challenges emerging in the new Long Term Plan.

With its clear emphasis on research and innovation for patient benefit, the NHS Long Term Plan highlights investment in latest technology, digital health and cutting edge treatments, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths every year.

The Long Term Plan also announced the introduction of a simpler, clearer innovation system with a key role for AHSNs. This will help to speed up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster.

Gaining access to the NHS and social care markets can be a difficult and daunting prospect for businesses. However, through The Innovation Exchange, the AHSNs act as a broker between businesses and the NHS to simplify the process for both parties.

Funded by the Office for Life Sciences, the aim of The Innovation Exchange is to identify, select and support the adoption of innovations, which have the potential to stimulate the economy and transform the lives of patients.

The focus on supporting innovators will also continue through successful initiatives such as the Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare) and the NHS Innovation Accelerator, championed by the AHSN Network.

We know that the Yorkshire and Humber region is a hotbed of digital innovation and an ideal place to start and grow a business; where entrepreneurial innovators are not only leading the way in digital healthcare technology, they’re also generating economic growth and creating employment opportunities.

To support this, we’ve recently launched our Propel@YH digital health accelerator programme in partnership with mHabitat and applications for this are now open.

Our Propel@YH initiative will provide innovative organisations developing digital health solutions with access to a structured course of support and advice aimed at helping them to navigate the NHS, whilst enabling accelerated company growth and increased market presence.

Six organisations will be chosen to take part in a six-month programme of masterclasses, digital innovator surgeries and events focused on human-related design, clinical safety by design and understanding NHS procurement. A further six organisations will receive an associate support package, including access to selected courses and sessions.

Across the AHSN Network, our shared ambition with the NHS is to ensure high-quality, evidence-based solutions are put to work for patient benefit as quickly as possible enabling prevention of ill-health, earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, better outcomes and faster recovery.

In the last year, we’ve engaged collectively with 1,173 companies, leading to 86 long-term strategic partnerships for those companies with the NHS. We’ll continue to broker these interactions as they are essential for both the development of new treatments and pathways and to maintaining a healthy life sciences sector.