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Innovation Scouts
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Who are the Scouts?

They are individuals from a range of professions who operate as a network, spreading ideas and innovations and learning from industry leaders in other sectors. Organised by the Innovation Agency, they benefit from study trips, events, webinars and other learning opportunities – and help to accelerate the adoption of innovations. Mainly drawn from NHS trusts and CCGs, the Scouts also include academics and senior managers in universities, local authorities and other public services.

What the Scouts have done

The role of an Innovation Scout is to encourage a culture of innovation within their organisations and to actively encourage adoption of evidence-based innovations. There are more than 70 Scouts and activities have included:

  • Study trips to: Living Lab in Denmark; digital health systems in Slovenia and Austria; pioneering companies 3M and BAE Systems
  • Big Innovation Conversation webinar series
  • Events to share and learn from peers, industry experts and thought leaders on innovation
  • Introductions to local innovative businesses to build relationships and match NHS need to business capabilities
  • Opportunity to join the Adoption Accelerator programme
  • Set up a cohort of mental health Scouts in 2017

What the Scouts say  

The Scouts were asked, “What has been the biggest benefit to you?” They answered: “Broader, wider networking, sharing (and pinching) ideas.” “It led to a new innovation competition being launched in my hospital.” “I’ve made connections with health/academia/industry that were not otherwise possible.” “The Scouts programme combats the potential feeling of loneliness that accompanies innovators.”

Spreading Innovations: 3D printing of anatomical models

A collaboration between a small business and surgeons at three North West Coast hospitals started with an introduction at an Innovation Scouts event. The models are rendered using images from MRI and CT scans and are 3D printed on site in a variety of materials by 3D LifePrints. They enable a significant saving in operating time, at an average cost of £13 per minute; and they help to demonstrate procedures to families and to theatre teams. The collaboration began at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and after an Innovation Scouts event at the hospital, it was extended to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals, with support from the Innovation Agency. The service has also been spread to AHSNs in West Midlands, Wessex, Greater Manchester and Kent, Surrey Sussex and they are opening a new hub in Oxford. 

Gold Award Innovation Scout

Consultant Paediatric Surgeon Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director of Innovation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was the first Innovation Scout to be presented with a gold award. Bronze, silver and gold awards are presented annually to recognise the achievements of Scouts in using the network to develop a culture of innovation in their organisations. Mr Iain Hennessey leads an Innovation Team which is working with world leading companies and local small businesses, using gaming technology, sensors and cognitive computing to predict the progression of illnesses and plan individualised treatments. Mr Hennessey said: “Our aim is to be the world’s best hospital for children, using all the latest technology to take the fear out of coming in for an operation or appointment and also to provide the best possible care. “Being part of the Innovation Scout network helps me and others to share great ideas and access support for innovation, helping Alder Hey to realise our innovation ambitions.” 

Adoption Accelerator  

Scouts can nominate fellow clinicians and managers to take part in our Adoption Accelerator – a coaching programme with workshops, virtual platforms for collaboration and practical tools to implement and spread innovations in the health and care system. Projects are:

  • Innovations with a digital focus
  • Relevant to transformation programme priorities
  • Relevant to the needs of the participant’s host organisation

For Further Information:

Juliette Kumar, Director for Improvement and Education,  01772 520263

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