The aim of our innovation work is to deliver significantly better outcomes for patients at a lower cost, through the systematic application of innovative tools and techniques. Innovation is embedded in all of our work.

Our innovation approach starts with a deep understanding of what matters to patients and the population. It involves multiple perspectives and collaborations, the systematic application of innovative tools and techniques, and a multi-faceted approach to adoption, adaption and diffusion. As a partnership we focus on bringing new services, pathways, treatments, techniques and technologies into practice to benefit the health and wellbeing of our patients and population, and to contribute to economic growth.

Our innovation work also focuses on the systematic implementation of proven innovations to ensure our entire population benefits equitably from the full suite of available solutions. Our approach is not to focus solely on, for example, particular National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance documents and/or technology appraisals. Instead, we consider the needs of a specific population and address the root causes of poor and variable outcomes. This can cover a range of interventions across the patient pathway including prevention, identification, diagnosis, treatment and on-going support. Within this, we are actively identifying opportunities to work together with industry to ensure our patients and populations have access to high impact innovations.

Strategic objectives

  • To deliver significantly better outcomes at less cost by embedding across the partnership a team of leaders who systematically use innovative tools and techniques
  • To speed the adoption and diffusion of innovations through patient pull,  horizontal, peer-to-peer support and system conditions as the primary mechanisms
  • To deliver better outcomes for patients and the population by enabling comprehensive uptake of high impact innovations across the care pathway

Innovation pathway diagramThe Innovation Pathway

The quality of care provided to patients and the wider population is – in nearly every case – dependent on technology, from the digital thermometer or patient records to robotic surgery.

Taking advantage of the latest technology is crucial to improving both health outcomes and the sustainability of the health and social care system.

There is a challenge for health and social care staff to see what technologies are available. Similarly, there’s a challenge for product developers (industry) to know what’s needed. We tackle that problem in a number of ways which include offering our own services as well as supporting national programmes such as the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare and the NHS Innovation Accelerator.

Why is it so important?

The Five Year Forward View (5YFV) published by NHS England says the NHS needs to make £22billion of efficiency savings by 2020/21. The NHS must focus on opportunities which contribute most to the 5YFV.

How we do this

The Innovation Pathway has been created to support the development and commercialisation of innovative ideas. This will provide a unique opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access and benefit from the healthcare sector.  Indeed, many of the services available to SMEs under The Innovation Pathway will also be critical to NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups in terms of the successful commercialisation of their new ideas.

Our role is respond to a wide range of clinical needs with a range of technologies. We promote the opportunity – the technology or capability – and not a specific product or company.


We look at a number of criteria. These include:

  • Whether the technology is on, or close to, market
  • How robust and realistic the business case is.

We focus on these areas because the contracting and payment mechanisms in the NHS can prevent the adoption of new technology. This is often overlooked by those wishing to sell products to the NHS.

What happens next?

If you wish to make us aware of your high-value market-ready product, you can contact Dr Amanda Begley, Director of Innovation for an initial discussion. After initial assessment, we may provide an introduction or signposting to an expert, relevant networks or events, or we may invite the applicant to an innovation surgery to discuss the value proposition.

Next steps

The Innovation Pathway delivers a brokerage between the NHS and other healthcare organisations and industries. It facilitates the commercialisation and use of emerging innovations, as well as driving high-technology research and development.

By offering a range of specialist services to the NHS and industry, the Innovation Pathway will create a seamless transition from conception through to early stage protection of any associated intellectual property. This support will continue through to the trialing and regulatory approval of new products, and onto the eventual adoption and dissemination of the innovative technology or service. This will help NHS organisations and small-medium sized enterprises within UCLPartners grow and expand their target sectors.

We are currently in the process of developing our offering at each step in the pathway. In the interim, some information on each of the steps can be found below.


NHS professionals will receive the necessary support and encouragement to develop innovations and stimulate the creation of ideas; as well as drive a culture for innovation within their organisation.


The service will ensure that new ideas are effectively captured and assessed to maximise the chances of successful commercialisation of new products and services. It will also reduce the loss of valuable ideas, with the ultimate aim of improving patient care. The assessment of ideas at this stage of the process ensures that only those ideas with a real and valid opportunity for positively impacting upon healthcare are progressed.

Intellectual property

The pathway will ensure that all the necessary steps are in place for protecting new ideas on the journey to the healthcare marketplace. For existing intellectual property, effective portfolio management is provided, ensuring the ongoing maintenance of protection.


The pathway innovators can tap into a valuable source of market information from a wide range of current and secure industry and healthcare specific data platforms. The data can be specialised and bespoke and it can be analysed to inform commercial decisions.


Assistance is provided to help with accessing financial support to enable the further development and commercialisation of a new idea, as well as providing support in connection with the establishment of a company, where appropriate.

Clinical trials

The NIHR Clinical Research Network can assist with the establishment of an evidence base for the effectiveness of the product or service in clinical practice. This may vary from observational or questionnaire based research, through to full randomised controlled trials. Advice and support is available to guide an organisation through this process and ensure that they get the right evidence they require to develop their product or service further.

For commercial clinical trials we have a partnership with IQVIA (formerly Quintiles) that allows us to quickly open studies at one of our member trusts and recruit from all others. Due to our harmonisation offering, we have been the global recruiter for Quintiles for several years now.


Assistance with the clinical evaluation of new medical devices and diagnostic products can be provided; which is an essential requirement for securing regulatory approval. An appropriate strategy to secure CE marking is vital to ensure that the most cost and time effective route is adopted. This in turn requires reliable clinical resources to design and conduct the evaluation, as well as a solid infrastructure to comply with ethics requirements. Furthermore, this can generate the evidence required to validate the claims of improved patient care, cost benefits, and improved service quality.


The ideas that have been assessed and protected can be taken from the concept stage through to functioning prototypes ready for clinical trial and regulatory approval. In parallel with this, commercialisation strategies and routes to market are developed and assessed.


Raising the profile of the proven innovations as well as the organisations they originate from  will promote wider and faster uptake, as well as adoption and market impact.


New ideas will be paired with those organisations in a position to bring them to reality, as well as facilitating valuable connections with the regional supply chain.

Celebrating success

We celebrate the achievements of NHS employees throughout all sectors of the service who have risen to the challenge of telling us how, and where, they believe that improvements to the service provided to patients can be improved. This would be either through a technical innovation or through better service delivery. It is often by walking in the shoes of those that are served by the NHS that inspiration is found to ultimately provide a better experience for patients, the public and staff.



We work with a number of partners to deliver our innovation pathway. Below you can find links to a variety of these partners.