Innovation Exchanges build on AHSNs’ unique cross-sector connections, which enable us to identify common challenges and quickly bring people and organisations together to develop, test and spread solutions. We speed up the spread of innovation, saving the NHS money, generating economic growth and getting technologies to more patients faster.

All AHSNs operate Innovation Exchanges, with funding from the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS)

The government’s recognition of investment in Innovation Exchanges is a step-change in the capacity of AHSNs to accelerate adoption of innovation and drive economic growth.

In the East Midlands, we operate a number of Innovation Exchanges each year based on our region’s major health challenges. Themes are agreed in consultation with East Midlands Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Integrated Care Systems.

Our latest Innovation Exchange process focuses on Medicines Optimisation.

Innovation Exchanges have local and national dimensions

  • Locally they support STPs and Integrated Care Systems to identify proven solutions to existing challenges
  • Where solutions tested locally are proven to work, the national AHSN Network may consider them for wider adoption or put them forward to the national Accelerated Access Review. Each year this NHS / government partnership selects high impact innovations for nationwide adoption throughout the NHS, with funding and support to quickly navigate issues that can be a barrier to rapid spread.

Innovation Exchange processes differ between AHSNs to ensure they respond to the local needs of their Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Accountable Care Systems. However, they all share common core functions and steps:The AHSN works with STPs and Integrated Care Systems to establish key challengesUsing their unique cross sector connections, the AHSN communicates these challenges to industry and third sector innovators – helping them understand demand and the evidence required by the NHSSignposting – AHSNs help match innovation solutions to the identified healthcare challenges, and seek early adopter sites to test them outAHSNs support the process to gather evaluation in practice – creating the evidence to support spread and adoption

AHSNs support the spread and adoption of innovation within their local areaThe most successful innovations tested out locally may considered by considered for wider spread and adoption:
- Across all or a number of AHSN areas via the AHSN Network (a collaborative comprising England’s 15 AHSNs)
- By putting them forward to the Accelerated Access Collaborative for national spread and adoption

The East Midlands Innovation Exchange process

Our Innovation Exchanges take in the following steps:

1. We engage and consult our STPs and evolving Integrated Care Systems to establish common challenges, based on the region’s health priorities

2. We organise a cross-sector Innovation Exchange workshop to explore the challenges and identify potential solutions. These highly participative events are attended by up to 250 people, connecting health and social care commissioners and providers with industry and third sector innovators. This stage generates a number of potential solutions

3. Post-event we support Ongoing collaboration to refine themes and build on the connections established. ‘Solution Groups’ are set up, facilitated jointly by health / social care and industry leads to co-produce solutions that address target outcomes. Proposals are submitted to a panel of Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Chief Operating Officers, clinicians, STP leads and Local Digital Roadmap (LDR) colleagues. It selects proposals that align to STP priorities and have greatest potential to deliver the outcomes

4. A ‘call for proposals’ is launched, with funding and support to rapidly deploy chosen solutions in demonstrator sites on a risk-shared basis with industry. We continue to work closely with Solution Group leads to oversee planning and set up of demonstrator sites

5. We support demonstrator programmes to build the evidence needed for a robust business case. The business case is used to plan the spread of the solution within the East Midlands (and ideally) nationally. Evidence is gathered in clinical settings to show how the innovation works in the hands of practitioners - building a picture of every day implementation, evaluating economics in a clinical setting and establishing barriers and enablers to spread and adoption

6. We share outputs from the demonstrator to maximise opportunities for collaboration. Demonstrators ready for adoption with sufficient evidence will be available for rapid spread in the East Midlands. The most promising innovations will be proposed for national spread via the national Accelerated Access Collaborative

7. For each innovation approved by the Accelerated Access Collaborative, the 15 AHSNs will develop a shared spread and adoption plan setting out an agreed approach to implementation. In the East Midlands this could involve both exporting innovations tested and proven locally (step 6), and importing those proven elsewhere that match the challenges of our STPs.

Find out more about Innovation Exchanges operated by other Academic Health Science Networks

View our recent Innovation Exchange on transforming long term conditions