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This content is taken from the Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester & MAHSE's online course, Understanding Innovation in the Healthcare Sciences. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Hello, my name is Joanne Thomas. I’m Senior Technology Manager at Trustech, and I’ve worked at Trustech for the last 16 years. I’m going to explain the support available if you have an idea for a new product or service improvement. To assess your idea, answer these questions. One, does the problem your idea solves, really need addressing? Two, are there any existing solutions to the problem? Three, how big is the problem, and will the benefit of the idea be worth the effort involved? Four, will your idea be cost effective compared with current practice? And five, do your colleagues think your idea is any good? So how do you answer these questions?

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds Start with internet and literature searching to find out more about the problems, such as the numbers and costs, and how others might have tried, successfully or otherwise, to solve it. Your NHS librarian will guide you and may help with the searching. Your trust coding department can give you data on numbers of patients and procedures. Secondly, speak to your colleagues within your organisation. And if your idea is for a service improvement, there may be an internal transformation team who could help. Thirdly, ask other organisations. You can contact local or national networking groups, such as the Healthcare Science Network. And ring or email experts in your field for advice. Finally, seek out innovation specialists, and/or intellectual property advisers in your region.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds For example, our organisation, Trustech, helps NHS organisations to capture, protect, and manage innovation. There are similar organisations, formerly known as NHS innovation hubs around the UK. And if you are linked to a university, approach their technology transfer office. Note that if your idea is potentially valuable, use a confidential disclosure agreement, also called a non-disclosure agreement, to protect it when speaking to other organisations. Your research and development office or intellectual property advisers can help with this. If your idea seems to be worth progressing, find out about any intellectual property issues. For example, if your idea is for a novel and inventive product, this could be protected by patent.

Skip to 2 minutes and 23 seconds If so, you will need to keep the idea confidential before a patent application is filed. And often, for a while afterwards. Work out the next steps needed to progress your idea, such as speaking to patients, assessing the market, or trialling the idea. In some cases, you might need to have a prototype created, and then tested in a lab or with patients. Then figure out the resources needed, such as your time, equipment and materials, external expertise, such as product design or software development, and possibly protecting the intellectual property. Work out the likely costs, so you know how much funding you need. Your department accountant can help with calculating internal costs. So who can support you?

Skip to 3 minutes and 6 seconds Your research and development department will have knowledge and contacts. If your idea is for a medical device on an in vitro a diagnostic device, look at the medicines and health products regulatory agency guidance. In terms of funding, if your idea is a service improvement that will increase productivity, and/or save money, your organisation might fund its testing. If you need external funding, search the internet for the problem area. Some of the main funders are the National Institute for Health Research, the government, such as Innovate UK, research councils, medical research charities, and European funding, such as Horizon 2020. It’s also worth getting a mailing list to hear about other ad hoc funding streams.

Skip to 3 minutes and 52 seconds If your idea is of interest to industry you could collaborate with a company to develop it. The company may fund some initial work if they know they will have first refusal on taking the idea to market. Speak to your intellectual property advisers for support. So in summary, if you have an idea that can improve the National Health Service, make use of all the people and organisations I have mentioned to assess it, and the problem it addresses, and then develop it further.

Assessing your idea and finding support

The video recaps the steps you have covered so far in developing your innovation proposal and informs you of different sources of funding for your innovation.

It begins by reminding you of the requirement to assess whether a problem really exists and if your idea would address that problem. We then move on to considering sources of financial support for the development of your idea. Step 2.5 will provide further information about funding sources.


If you are comfortable in doing so, use the comments section to pitch an outline of your innovation idea. Provide feedback to other learners on their ideas

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This video is from the free online course:

Understanding Innovation in the Healthcare Sciences

Manchester Metropolitan University

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