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The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA)

14 June 2017

The Challenge

Eliminating unacceptable variations in health indicators and the outcomes of care, integrating care and finite resources around the needs of patients and populations, and realising the potential of new technologies and digital platforms, all require the adoption and spread of effective innovative practices.

Facing the challenge

The NIA supports dedicated individuals (‘Fellows’) to scale their high impact, evidence-based innovations across the NHS and wider healthcare system. An NHS England initiative, delivered in partnership with England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and hosted at UCLPartners, the NIA supports delivery of the Five Year Forward View and aims to:

  • Help create the conditions and cultural change necessary for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically in the NHS
  • Deliver innovation into practice for demonstrable patient and population benefit
  • Learn from Fellows’ experiences so that others benefit from knowledge generated

As part of an annual international call, the NIA invites applications from exceptional individuals representing innovations which address clear needs and challenges faced by the NHS. All innovations selected to join the NIA undergo a robust, competitive, multi-stage process involving expert assessors drawn from a wide range of organisations including NHS England, NHS Digital, AHSNs, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and The Health Foundation.

Now in its third year, the NIA currently hosts 36 Fellows, representing 37 innovations.


Since the NIA launched in 2015, Fellows have achieved some impressive results, with 1,242 additional NHS commissioners and providers using NIA innovations; £41.6M secured in external funding; 49 awards won; and 21 innovations selling internationally.

In addition, an independent evaluation of the NIA, published in March 2018, demonstrated the impact of the NIA in encouraging greater uptake of healthcare innovations and bringing positive outcomes for patient and population benefit. Key findings included that the NIA’s unique model – with a dual focus on both Fellow and innovation – works, and that NIA innovations are improving patient outcomes – generating £12M savings in year one.

Expanding the reach

Following a third international call, the NIA selected 11 new Fellows to join the programme in November 2017. Each of these Fellows represents high impact, evidence-based innovations to support challenges in Primary Care, Urgent and Emergency Care, and Mental Health. More information about each of these innovations and their respective Fellows is available here.“Innovation is what links quality expectation with productivity expectation. Never before has the importance of innovation for our NHS been as essential as it is now. That is why the NIA really comes of age this year.”

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NIA Programme Board Chair