Final call for NHS entrepreneurs to apply for innovation support programme

Budding entrepreneurs still have time to apply for a ground-breaking programme that is helping to bring clinical innovations into the NHS to improve patient care.

The latest round of NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneur programme is still open for applications and has now expanded to welcome applications from every type of clinician in the NHS including nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists for the first time.

More than 240 doctors, dentists and healthcare scientists have already joined the programme since it launched in 2016 to receive expert support, mentoring and training to develop their innovative ideas into products and businesses to benefit NHS patients and support service redesign.

This has led to 5.6 million patients and professionals using innovations on the programme, ranging from educational training platforms for medics, the provision of video consultations with GPs, to medical diagnostic devices.

Clinicians supported include:

  • Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, plastic surgery registrar in the NHS, who co-founded a multiple award-winning augmented reality platform, called Proximie, that allows doctors to virtually transport themselves into any operating room, anywhere in the world, to visually and practically interact in an operation from start to finish. NHS patients have directly benefitted from Proximie’s healthcare solutions as it allows them to have specialist care at their local hospital without the need to travel to larger centres.
  • Mr Bala Sirigireddy, Head of Haematology and blood transfusion at Homerton University Hospital Foundation trust, is developing a voice controlled data collection app for patients with sickle cell anaemia. The app-based device will be worn by patients, to monitor their health, including their heart rate, pain score and medication log every day, helping to inform their care.
  • Orthodontist Samir Moghanchi, is developing an intelligent bracket system that will avoid unwanted tooth movements, reduce treatment time with more predictable treatment outcome and take account of ethnic variation in dental structure.

NHS England’s National Clinical Lead for Innovation, Professor Tony Young said: “The Clinical Entrepreneur programme is creating an avenue for entrepreneurial NHS staff to get specific, professional training in this area and reverse the bran-drain effect of innovators having to leave the NHS for the private sector to pursue their groundbreaking proposals.

“Last year the programme was extended to healthcare scientists and dentists, now in the NHS’ 70th year, with the inclusion of nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists, every single clinician in the NHS can apply to be part of this fantastic initiative.”

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “I am delighted this important programme has been extended to include nurses and midwives, their knowledge, skills and expertise place them in a unique situation to be able influence, innovate and lead.

“I would encourage all staff to consider this excellent opportunity and I look forward to seeing the involvement and impact of nurses and midwives across the country.”

Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, Suzanne Rastrick said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Allied Health professionals to engage with the world leading Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. We are delighted the programme has been rolled out to include the third largest workforce in health and care services.

“This unique programme will help to highlight and develop innovations that are undertaken by entrepreneurial AHPs, not just in technology, but in productivity, cultural change and clinical research. It will bring these innovations  to a wider audience to benefit patients.”

Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmacist at NHS England, said: “This programme provides a unique opportunity to harness the innovative ideas of pharmacists which, ultimately, will lead to transformational changes in medicines use and outcomes for patients.

“Innovation within clinical pharmacy practice will be crucial for developing new partnerships, innovative research practice and developing new ideas to improve medicines safety and the quality of patient care in a sustainable way.”

The Clinical Entrepreneur curriculum covers all aspects of setting up and running a small business, including attracting investors, applying for funding, and ensuring appropriate corporate governance. A dedicated programme in how to build a start-up – and how to operate in this highly-charged environment – is delivered as a series of educational events attended by industry mentors.

Further achievements in the first year of the programme include:

  • In total, Clinical Entrepreneurs have been awarded over £3.7 million of public sector funding in the form of grants and seed-funding and have raised over £48 million of private sector funding.
  • The programme has also supported a brain gain of 34 doctors returning to/staying in the NHS whilst developing their innovations, helping to avoid staff leaving the NHS to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

The training programme for any NHS clinician including nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists will begin in autumn 2018.