2023 A Year in Review: Accelerating health and care innovation across Greater Manchester

An aerial shot of Greater Manchester.

As we near the end of 2023, it’s a time for reflection on the continual strides taken in Greater Manchester towards pioneering research, the cultivation of partnerships, and the swift integration of innovative solutions within our local health and social care system.

Throughout the month of December, Health Innovation Manchester is excited to revisit and showcase our most impactful moments and achievements from 2023.

This blog will encompass a view of our top stories, drawing from various sources such as news, blogs, and the invaluable thoughts and perspectives shared by a range of key stakeholders and partners from across the system. It will highlight significant breakthroughs, collaborative efforts, and cutting-edge innovations that have significantly contributed to the improved health and wellbeing of our communities.

Stay engaged with us as we reveal these highlights, presenting a day-by-day unveiling of the transformative moments and significant strides achieved in our local health and social care system throughout the year. Please click on each of the tabs below to read more:

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive Officer of Health Innovation Manchester, has reflected on our year to date, looking at key projects, highlights and challenges that we have faced as a system throughout 2023. Read this blog here.

In this he outlines the accomplishments and future prospects of Health Innovation Manchester, offering a profound reflection on the achievements of the past year while exploring the promising trajectory that lies ahead in 2024.

Ben’s reflections of the organisation show how Health Innovation Manchester has grown this past year, with the onboarding of three global industry leaders joining Health Innovation Manchester, along with Dr Gareth Thomas joining as Digital Innovation Director.

Introduced in October, the Greater Manchester Health and Care Digital Transformation Strategy represents a collaborative initiative aimed at enhancing health and care services for the benefit of all across the region.

Led by Health Innovation Manchester, on behalf of Greater Manchester’s NHS and social care partners, and informed by the input of over 500 local individuals and professionals, the strategy outlines how digital, data, and technology will transform care and enhance overall outcomes.

The Strategy serves as a guide driving long-term objectives to enhance the NHS, empower citizens, and position Greater Manchester as a leading digital city region globally. The Strategy revolves around five core ambitions designed to promote wellness, early illness detection, and provide individuals with greater agency over their health.

Our five ambitions include:

  1. Delivering integrated, coordinated, and secure care to citizens.
  2. Empowering staff and services to operate with efficiency and productivity.
  3. Enabling citizens to manage their health and care needs autonomously.
  4. Understanding population health needs and taking action based on insights.
  5. Accelerating research and innovation into practice, positioning us as a global leader.

As part of the strategy launch, Gareth Thomas, our digital innovation director, wrote a blog post celebrating the launch which can be accessed here. Gareth said: “There is tremendous potential for Greater Manchester to become a world-leading digital city region. Through close collaboration with citizens and partners across the Greater Manchester health and care system, and building on the GMCA Digital Blueprint, we are developing a strategy that will meet our ambitions for digital transformation, leading to enhanced efficiency and integration across services, greater understanding of our population’s needs, and improved care for everyone.”

Read more about the strategy here.

We were thrilled to announce the release of our 2022-23 Impact Report in October. The report showcases our efforts through data, case studies, and expert insights, demonstrating our commitment to transforming care pathways and enhancing service improvements.

Within this report, we shine a light on Health Innovation Manchester’s primary pillars:

  • Digital Transformation
  • Innovation Development and Deployment
  • Research and Academia
  • Industry Partners

Each section showcases our diverse programs aimed at driving impactful changes across the healthcare landscape.

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive at Health Innovation Manchester, and Rowena Burns, Chair at Health Innovation Manchester, said within the report: “Through our three-year business plan, ‘Leading with Delivery’, our ambition in making Greater Manchester a leading region to attract and deploy new innovations continues to grow. As we look forward to 2023-24 and beyond, we will continue to work closely with our partners to focus and deploy innovations at scale that will make the biggest difference to the health, wealth and wellbeing of our citizens.”

Read the report here.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Greater Manchester had been chosen to develop a regional Secure Data Environment (SDE) for health and care, funded by NHS England.

SDE’s (formerly known as “Trusted Research Environments”) are highly secure computing environments that provide remote access to health data for approved researchers to use in health and care research that can save and improve lives. SDE’s put virtual walls around data to ensure that users can only access data for which they are approved and provide secure access to analytical and statistical tools for conducting research. The GM Care Record (GMCR) will be one of the datasets that can be analysed through the SDE.

Bradley Quinn, Director of Insight for Health Innovation Manchester spoke of the SDE announcement in a blog about the programme and said: “The NHS ambition here is clear, and as lead for the GM SDE programme, I’m excited to be working with colleagues across our city-region – and beyond – as Greater Manchester continues to lead the way in utilising data for health research and innovation.”

The conclusion of the ERDF Research and Innovation (R&I) Health Accelerator programme marked a significant milestone for Health Innovation Manchester, as we showcased some of the successful companies benefiting from the project.

Highlighting Greater Manchester as a hub of collaborative innovation with academic and research partners, the programme, supported by the ERDF and managed by a consortium including Health Innovation Manchester, The University of Manchester, The University of Manchester Innovation Factory, Manchester City Council, and Bionow, has provided vital aid to over 60 companies since in 2020.

Six of these companies were selected to share their experiences through video case studies. These accounts emphasized the transformative impact of the Accelerator, detailing how it facilitated connections, harnessed expert guidance, and enabled partnerships vital for their growth.

These insightful interviews and case studies not only showcased the companies’ innovative ideas but also shared stories of the  support received from Manchester’s academic network.

Watch the videos here.

According to the NHS Long Term Plan, the most significant opportunity for saving lives in the next decade lies in reducing the occurrence of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

CVD is responsible for a quarter of all deaths in the UK and stands as the primary cause of premature mortality in economically deprived areas.

Hypercholesterolaemia, characterized by high blood cholesterol, poses a substantial risk for CVD. Research indicates that enhancing the identification of individuals with hypercholesterolaemia and ensuring they receive effective treatment can generate considerable benefits.

Health Innovation Manchester is actively engaged in a comprehensive programme to enhance the detection of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia, a genetic condition associated with extremely high cholesterol levels. The organisation is also focused on optimising lipid management to enhance patient care and outcomes, ultimately reducing premature cardiovascular disease-related deaths or disabilities.

Dr. Tracey Vell, a practicing GP, Medical Director at Health Innovation Manchester, and Medical Executive lead for primary care at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, shared her unique perspective in a blog. In it, she discusses why Greater Manchester has adopted a population health implementation model and outlines collaborative efforts with healthcare professionals and partners to identify and manage populations at high risk of CVD.

Read the blog here.

Back in May, we launched the brand new Hospital at Home campaign. The campaign includes virtual wards or other technology-enabled care at home, brings together nurses, doctors, and other health professionals to deliver hospital care in a patient’s own home.

By combining the latest health technology with the specialist knowledge of doctors and nurses working in the Greater Manchester health and care system, patients on the Hospital at Home service can receive better care, in the familiarity and comfort of their own home.

The gave a simple overview of the Hospital at Home service, and provided clear information and resources for patients, families, carers and staff around how the service works.

As part of the launch, our Director of Strategy, Laura Rooney, shared her thoughts on the evolution of the service following 12 months of developing virtual wards across Greater Manchester.

There has been significant success with programmes that are part of the MedTech Funding Mandate (MTFM) this year. The MTFM policy is delivered in partnership with The Health Innovation Network (HIN) and is committed to accelerate the uptake of selected innovative medical devices, diagnostics and digital products to patients faster.

One programme which has made significant advances this year is the treatment of sickle cell disease in Greater Manchester which showcased at the House of Commons in London part of a Sickle Cell Sharing Event by NHS England and Improvement, celebrating the achievements of improved services across several NHS regions with partners and colleagues.

Mary Aziz, Programme Development Lead for Health Innovation Manchester, explains in a blog how sickle cell patients have been supported through the programme and how it helps patients to have better care outcomes and quality of life.

Another successful development stemming from the MTFM is the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) by introducing four NICE recommended procedures.

The four BPH technologies are:

  • Greenlight XPS – uses a laser to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate.
  • Rezum – uses water vapour to destroy excess prostate tissue.
  • PLASMA System – uses electrodes to cut out prostate tissue.
  • UroLift® – lifts and holds the enlarged prostate tissue away from the urethra, relieving the compression of this organ.

You can read about how the UroLift® system was used as a life-changing treatment for patient Marcus Roberts here.

In March, we announced the launch of a multi-million pound health innovation accelerator, supported by a £100 million government investment to boost three innovation clusters in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.  

In a two-year programme, Greater Manchester will focus on AI, advanced materials, diagnostics, and net zero solutions. The Health Innovation Accelerator targets early disease diagnosis and personalized treatment, particularly in high-risk or disadvantaged communities. Partnerships with industry, including life sciences and digital sectors, amplify the initiative. The Health Innovation Accelerator encompasses two projects, the Advanced Diagnostics Accelerator and the DEVOTE programme, delivered through a partnership between Health Innovation Manchester, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), The University of Manchester, and industry partners. Read more about the Health Innovation Accelerator here

Projects include liver disease, heart failure, lung cancer screening, chest pain diagnostics, and community-based testing. All efforts aim to reduce inequalities, engage communities, and foster innovative collaborations. 

Funding has been awarded by Innovate UK, and allocated to innovative projects in sectors where Greater Manchester has existing research strengths, including advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), diagnostics and health innovation, and net zero. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is the UK’s innovation agency working to create a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. 

To celebrate the launch of the Health Innovation Accelerator (HIA) we hosted an event to discuss the purpose, ambitions & aims of the programme, providing an overview of the projects and highlighting how the programme will act as a catalyst for developing the broader research and innovation ecosystem. 

Tackling health inequalities is a key driver for the HIA programme and therefore public involvement and engagement is a cross-cutting theme. Nicky Timmis, PPIE Manager at Health Innovation Manchester (HInM) spoke of how her team are actively involving patient groups, marginalized communities, and individuals with lived experiences so that valuable insights and learnings can be generated, contributing to the overall success of the programme. You can read more about Nicky’s work within the HIA programme here. 


In June, a pivotal agreement was formalised between organisations in Canada and the UK. 

This agreement underscores our joint commitment to enhance the health and wellbeing of older individuals through collaborative efforts. 

Part of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) Healthy Ageing programme, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) represents a crucial step in our shared mission.  

Collaborating with esteemed Canadian organisations, namely AGE-WELL and the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), the MoU signifies our dedication to advancing healthy aging technology. This initiative aims to benefit older populations in both the UK and Canada. 

The MoU was signed in Manchester during a Canadian delegation visit to the UK as part of the joint UK-Canada AgeTech Innovation Exchange. The Exchange includes UK and Canadian businesses with products that have the potential to improve the health and well-being of older people. 

The MoU builds on a five year collaboration between Canada and the NHSA and renews a pledge to work together to tackle major challenges in elderly care and bring innovation to the forefront of the industry. 

Sig Mikladal, Senior Programme Development Lead, Health Innovation Manchester, said: “We work to improve the lives of the citizens in Greater Manchester, addressing not only the health challenges associated with ageing but also levering the economic opportunities that this presents. It was a great pleasure to host the Canadian companies and showcase some of the fantastic healthy ageing related activities in Manchester. The Innovation Exchange allowed us to explore novel approaches with different perspectives for the UK healthcare market and demonstrate how a local neighbourhood approach combined with regional, national and international collaboration can come together to solve some of the greatest economic and healthcare related issues we face. I have no doubt that we will see some of the companies again in the UK soon and I look forward to accompanying our UK innovators to Canada.” 

Read about the agreement here… 


A six-month pilot was launched in February this year at the Royal Oldham Hospital (ROH), with the aim of transforming services for children and young people (CYP) diagnosed with asthma and related conditions.. 

The pilot adopts a whole household approach to asthma intervention,  working with the ROH Children’s and Paediatric Observation and Assessment Unit. The primary objective is to identify children and young people admitted to the hospital with asthma or respiratory illness, especially those who either smoke or live in a household with smokers. 

As part of the pilot, patients receive Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) testing on the ward to assess lung inflammation. Additionally, they are provided with guidance, nicotine replacement therapy, and support to facilitate their journey toward a smoke-free lifestyle. 

This is part of the wider Innovation for Healthcare Inequalities Programme (InHIP) which is a unique collaboration between the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), NHS England’s National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme and the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)and delivered in partnership with Greater Manchester Integrated Care System (ICSs). 

Health Innovation Manchester has worked collaboratively with key stakeholders across NHS Greater Manchester (NHS GM), includingThe Royal Oldham Hospital, ABL Healthand Your Health Oldham and the Make Smoking History Team to identify key focus points within the local health and care system, proposing that one of the greatest healthcare inequality challenges in Greater Manchester is paediatric asthma and effects of second-hand smoke on asthma. 

Dr Tracey Vell MBE, Medical Director at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “This is a perfect example of making every contact in the NHS count and whilst we have citizens engaging with the health service, we must tackle the wider determinants of health and prevent future ill health. In Greater Manchester we must start with those identified to be in the most need. Often citizens present only with their children, and we take every opportunity to offer health advice.” 


The Young Person Employability Partnership is an initiative forming part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Sustainable Development – For Generations framework, designed to deliver long-term improvements across healthcare, communities and the environment. It demonstrates Boehringer Ingelheim’s continued commitment to supporting vulnerable communities by empowering employees and partnerships. 

Orchestrated by Health Innovation Manchester, Greater Manchester’s academic health science system, the Young Person Employability Partnership: Sharing Skills for Life curates a bespoke pre-employment, programme of learning to provide insight and life skills from a leading, global commercial life sciences organisation. 

Greater Manchester’s future workforce was inspired on 12th December 2023 as the Young Person Employability Partnership: Sharing Skills for Life event returned for a third year. 

In collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, Health Innovation Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and CoDevelop Consulting the annual event is designed to support young people to develop the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace. 

With attendance from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, workshops were held to focus on the diverse careers within the UK life sciences sector. Additionally, these sessions aimed to teach students about resilience, self-awareness, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and understanding different personality types, helping to equip them with a basic understanding of the workplace when they come to seek employment. 

Vicky Bertenshaw, Industry Engagement Lead, Health Innovation Manchester, added:  “At Health Innovation Manchester we depend on innovations and technology within healthcare to improve our NHS, working closely with clinicians, academics and communities to discover, develop and deploy these innovations to make a real difference in patient lives. It’s important that we also focus on the skills and experiences of future generations, embedding innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset into their daily working lives, to help us to continue to achieve this in the future. The Young Person’s Employability Partnership provides an excellent example of collaborating with other industries and partners in new ways to ensure that we achieve this aim together.” 

Read more from the event here… 

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