Throwing open the doors to Innovation in the Welsh NHS

With the Welsh National Health Service facing an ever growing demand for healthcare provision, coupled with financial pressures on all parts of the system, delivering an effective and sustainable service is a challenge stakeholders across Wales are coming together to address.

Launched in May 2016, the Swansea Healthcare Innovation Partnership Programme (SHIPP) is a flagship pan-Wales programme that will speed up the number of new healthcare innovations getting into the hands of clinicians and healthcare workers within the NHS service in Wales.

The fund supports projects derived from healthcare innovation taking place in Welsh universities, Health Boards and NHS Trusts, providing initial proof of concept funding of up to £50,000 to support the early stage development of new technologies that will have a significant impact on patients’ well-being.  

Shipp project

Since the programme began, a pipeline of 14 projects has been developed, with 6 initially shortlisted, 5 of which have been awarded a first round of funding for projects to run from 1st July to the 31st December 2016.

Successful projects have been selected for funding by a commercial panel comprised of venture capital fund managers and intellectual property experts.  Funded projects were chosen on the basis of their commercial viability and their potential long-term impact on healthcare in Wales.

SHIPP, which is still open to new enquiries, builds on the success of InvestorG8, a £450,000 Welsh Government funded initiative that supported 9 projects over a 10 month period, with 8 new companies or joint ventures being launched as a result.  InvestorG8 has already yielded a number of substantial offers of investment into these new businesses, and has delivered a 10 fold return on the public funding received in 2014.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said:

“This programme is about developing new innovative technologies to improve outcomes for patients and getting them into the hands of clinicians faster, whilst making money spent on the NHS go further. 

 “This team has an impressive track record of developing research-derived technologies commercially; as well as improving health and care services the SHIPP programme aims to create new businesses, supporting jobs and growth in Wales.” 

One of the funded projects involves clinicians from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Swansea University/Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which will result in the development of a healthcare app for use by the general public, designed to help people ascertain whether they, or people they care about, are likely to be suffering from an eating disorder.   The App will be free to use and released early in the New Year.

Dr Mark Bowman, SHIPP Programme Manager commented:

We are delighted to have identified, approved and funded a wide range of projects in such a short space of time through the SHIPP programme.  Having received enquiries from all over Wales, there is clearly strong evidence of the demand for this programme.  We very much look forward to working with a variety of projects, all of which have the potential to deliver significant healthcare benefits for the Welsh NHS and its patients.”

Dr Gerry Ronan, Head of Commercial Services at Swansea University said:

“This is yet another example of the ambitious approach to Open Innovation being adopted by Swansea University.  Our aim is to apply our highly distinctive and outcome-driven approach to developing healthcare innovations. 

We welcome the opportunity to deploy our proven processes and procedures within an NHS environment.  Thanks to Welsh Government part-funding, Swansea University can now offer the Welsh NHS a fast track to successful commercialisation of their healthcare innovation projects.”

If you are a healthcare professional working in the Welsh NHS and are interested in working with Swansea University to develop an innovative product or service, please contact Dr Mark Bowman on m.a.e.bowman@swansea.ac.uk 

Image caption: One of the successful projects to receive SHIPP funding: Using Mass spectrometry for detecting biomarkers in breast cancer.From left to right, Professor William Griffiths, Dr Yuqin Wang, Dr Gerry Ronan, Dr Mark Bowman, Dr Stephen Donoghue (Swansea University)