Innovation through partnership: The Health Innovation Accelerator

[Image taken at the Digital Healthcare Conference 2024. From left to right – Daniel Zamora, Sian Hilton, Simon Patton, Joanna Wilson Brown, Roddy Burns, Manish Patel, Fiona Gillanders, Nigel Slone and Tony King]

Innovation cannot happen in isolation: it requires partnership work, strong collaboration ethos and a joint purpose. Daniel Zamora, Programme Director for the Health Innovation Accelerator at Health Innovation Manchester, outlines the importance of partnership, and how through the Health Innovation Accelerator we are achieving real innovation through close collaboration with our partners.

In a world where collaboration can be challenging, and different organisations can have competing priorities, it is crucial to develop empathy and understand other’s needs, concerns and wants.

The Health Innovation Accelerator is a true partnership between the NHS, Academia and Industry – particularly Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), The University of Manchester and Health Innovation Manchester. It has been established to rapidly improve the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most challenging disease areas across the 2.8m Greater Manchester population. With 10 partners across all sectors, and 7 co-investors, it is a complex and continually evolving programme, but through transparent and close collaboration with all partners, a programme such as this is capable of real innovation.

We are focusing on developing advanced diagnostics using both genomic and digital technologies, to do things differently to benefit the population in Greater Manchester – from improving health outcomes for people living in the most disadvantaged communities, to boosting productivity and driving economic growth across the region.

It is important to recognise the incredible work our industry partners are undertaking every day, carrying a certain risk (inherent in innovation) and supporting us in tackling the need for advanced diagnostics in a city-region with high health inequities.

We recently showcased the Health Innovation Accelerator and the work of our partners during the Digital Healthcare Show in London. It was a well organised event, where a selection of our Industry partners shared with the audience not only details about their strong expertise and capabilities but how we’re doing things differently in Manchester.  It was fantastic day with incredible energy that reminded all of us we need to share knowledge and expertise and work together across the sectors, if we want to change healthcare.

Delivering enhanced genomic diagnostics to optimise precision medicines for patients

We started by discussing the great work of DEVOTE, a programme to accelerate the development and adoption of genomics technology into clinical practice. Led by Professor Bill Newman, Dr John McDermott and Dr Videha Sharma, the programme includes new genetic Point of Care Testing technology being developed by Genedrive, a Ultra rapid testing technology developed by Chromition, a Pharmacogenomic Passport panel developed by APIS Assay Technologies Ltd and all the assurance and quality controls developed by EMQN.

Sian Hilton, Project Manager at Health Innovation Manchester, said, “The DEVOTE programme is demonstrating that a collaboration between clinicians, academia and industry partners can accelerate the development and implementation of novel point-of -care and time critical genetic tests.”

Engaging with underserved communities in novel ways

We then moved to discuss how we’re using different approaches for engaging with our communities, bringing the incredible expertise from Mindfield and learning from other sectors outside of healthcare with BGFG.

Joanna Brown, Research Director at MindField, said: “It was a great opportunity to share some of the innovative ways we are engaging with those with high-risk health conditions, who don’t currently engage with health services.  The research we carry out is only as good as the participants we engage, so it’s vital to get it right.”

Developing novel ways of working through data and digital

Finally, we discussed data and digital technologies. JIVA outlined how their platform is being used for a model to detect liver damage, and how they are exploring how an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool can be safely integrated into the Secure Data Environment (SDE), to improve access for more researchers. We heard how Graphnet Health Ltd are integrating data from the GM Care Record into an enhanced patient finding cohort tool, to help inform hotspots of at-risk populations in Greater Manchester.  Sollis covered how their expertise in population health analytics can help inform screening decisions, and we heard how partnership with BCN Group Ltd is strengthening our capabilities in cyber-security and power analytics.

Fiona Gillanders, Chief Product Officer at Graphnet, said: “It was invigorating to reconnect in person with a few of the wonderful partners we’re working with on the Greater Manchester Advanced Diagnostic Accelerator. The panel, and the whole event, was a wonderful reminder of how combining data, analytics, with a personalised and human approach can be transformative for healthcare. Effective partnerships like these allow us to leverage diverse expertise and develop innovative solutions to address complex challenges in population health. By collaboratively leveraging data, we can more effectively tailor healthcare solutions to meet the unique needs of communities served by the NHS, enhancing outcomes, reducing inequalities, and support preventative care.”

Manish Patel, CEO at Jiva “It was a great pleasure to share the stage with consortium partners at the digital healthcare conference. One of the most important aspects of SME growth is access to large networks, and being able to share the Advanced Diagnostics story with a wide audience from Jiva’s perspective has already opened up interest from various commercial channels.”

Nigel Slone, CEO at Sollis, said: “It was refreshing and insightful to hear that delegates were so supportive of the overall aims and purpose of the project. It was clear from the lively engagement with the panel that they fully supported the need to better utilise available data assets to inform service redesign in the service of proactive and anticipatory care. For this audience at least, it was a given that data driven Population Health Management (PHM)  approaches were urgent and necessary and that such approaches could only be delivered through a collaboration of NHS, industry, academia and most importantly local communities.

Next steps

It is still early days for the Health Innovation Accelerator: it is an ambitious programme with limited funding and there are certainly numerous challenges ahead. However, here at Health Innovation Manchester we are truly committed alongside our partners to continue the journey, and evolve, learn from and change healthcare for good.

Further information about the Health Innovation Accelerator

The Health Innovation Accelerator has been established to rapidly improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease across the 2.8m Greater Manchester population.

The 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.

[Image taken at the Digital Healthcare Conference 2024. From left to right – Daniel Zamora, Sian Hilton, Simon Patton, Joanna Wilson Brown, Roddy Burns, Manish Patel, Fiona Gillanders, Nigel Slone and Tony King]

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