Innovation Agency
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AHSNs relicensed with new name

The Innovation Agency and 14 fellow Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are to be relicensed by NHS England for a further five years.

From October they will be renamed ‘Health Innovation Networks’ and the Innovation Agency will become the North West Coast Health Innovation Network.

The formal announcement from NHS England came after a meeting of the Life Sciences Council, a forum for government and industry.

The contracts will be with 15 Health Innovation Networks, with a break clause after two years. The new name better reflects the role and remit of the organisations.

Dr Phil Jennings, Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency, recently said:

“This new licence is an endorsement of the work we’ve been doing to support the health and care system in our region and of the impact of the wider AHSN Network.

“We’re looking forward to deepening and strengthening relationships with our regional partners and we’ll continue to ensure innovation plays a big part in boosting health outcomes.”

Set up in 2013 to act as innovation arm of the NHS, AHSNs work locally to support the spread of all types of innovation in the NHS, from new technologies to ways of working and service improvements.

AHSNs have delivered 11 national adoption and spread programmes and supported the rapid uptake of 28 NICE-approved products. These initiatives alone have benefited more than 2.3 million patients. Since 2018, AHSNs have also helped to leverage investment of £1.8bn for the UK.

In the North West Coast, the Innovation Agency has in the last 10 years:

  • Delivered Restore2 training, designed to improve patient care, in more than 400 care homes
  • Established a safety improvement programme for maternity services in all 11 maternity units in our region
  • Helped secure £191m of inward investment for the region
  • Helped secure 689 jobs and supported more than 1,800 innovative companies
  • Delivered coaching to approximately 3,000 individuals and teams
  • Provided facilitation and coaching for system change programmes such as redesign of a pulmonary rehabilitation pathway; a new lipids pathway; development of a clinical and care system leadership framework

Matt Whitty, Director of Innovation, Research and Life Sciences for NHS England, recently said:

“The Academic Health Science Networks play a key role in driving the uptake of health innovation and economic growth, enabling patients to benefit from earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, and faster recovery.

“The renamed network will have a critical role to play in supporting the new Integrated Care Systems to adopt innovations and will be aligned to NHS priorities such as tackling health inequalities and fulfilling the Life Science’s Vision to deliver improved public services and grow the economy.”

Professor Gary Ford, Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of Oxford AHSN, recently said:

“Under the new banner of Health Innovation Networks each organisation will continue to support local innovation and transformation, working with their local integrated care boards (ICBs) while continuing to come together as a national network to spread promising solutions at scale.”

The new licence will come into effect from 1 October 2023. More information about the rollout of the new licences, priority programmes and collaboration with NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, will follow during the summer.


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