Innovation starts by thoroughly understanding the problems we need to solve.

We do this at Health Innovation West of England by embedding ourselves in and working collaboratively with our local health and care systems. By nurturing active networks and communities and learning from their insights, we can better understand and respond to their priorities for innovation and improvement.

Here are some examples of the networks we support:

Patient Safety Collaborative

We host and coordinate the West of England Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC), which oversees the delivery of all our patient safety work.

The PSC is made up of all the NHS providers and commissioners across the region, including hospitals, mental health and community organisations, the ambulance service, primary care and integrated care boards.

It brings together local patients and healthcare staff, all driven by a shared vision to bring about system-wide improvements to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in the care of our health services.

South West Learning Disabilities Collaborative

Our original Learning Disabilities Collaborative was established in early 2019, and initially focused on using the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) and soft-signs tools such as RESTORE2, as well as increasing uptake of annual health checks and flu vaccinations.

After notable successes, the expanded South West Learning Disabilities Collaborative was created in 2022 to cover the entire South West region and now has 458 members.

The expanded collaborative, which is funded and delivered in partnership with NHS England South West, brings together health and care professionals, carers and people with lived experience driven by a shared ambition to improve health outcomes for people with learning disabilities.

Regional Perinatal Equity Network

The Regional Perinatal Equity Network was launched in 2021 by Health Innovation West of England and Health Innovation South West.

The network serves as the forum for those working within maternity and newborn services and related organisations, along with parents, to share learning and ideas, support the delivery of Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) equity plans, and hear from expert speakers on a range of relevant topics.

Articulating the need for innovation

Through our needs analysis activities, we engage with health and care professionals, networks and communities to gain their collective insights, providing tools and techniques to help them identify and describe the needs and challenges that would benefit most from new approaches.

ERIC Young Champions

Following on from our Voices for Change project in 2021/22 in partnership with Bristol Health Partner’s Bladder and Bowel Health Integration Team (BABCON HIT), we have worked with the Bristol-based children’s bladder and bowel charity ERIC to better understand the challenges faced by young people aged 11-18 affected by bladder or bowel conditions.

We funded the production of a report on a project carried out by the ERIC Young Champions, with the support of Participation People.

This project captured the experiences of over 900 secondary school aged young people to find out about their day-to-day experiences of living with
a bladder or bowel condition. The group worked with our team and the charity to agree some powerful problem statements.

The ambition is to open up conversations about what can be a very sensitive topic, laying the groundwork to initiate positive and enduring change with the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.

The report will be published in summer 2024 and we will share the key messages across health, education and industry to highlight the opportunities to make meaningful changes and drive innovative thinking to address needs.

Community waiting lists for neurodiversity pathways

As a result of the significant waiting times for children and young people being referred for autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessments, with a 350% increase in demand pre and post pandemic, Health Innovation West of England is working with partners across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) on transformation of the neurodiversity pathways.

This programme is being coordinated by the integrated care board’s Transformation Hub team, working with stakeholders such as patient carer forums and Sirona. They began the work with a series of design-thinking workshops, employing techniques they had learnt through our Innovate Healthier Together Development Programme.

These ideation exercises have resulted in a co-produced proposed interim model pilot. This will involve using a newly validated profiling tool
for children and young people within school settings, which will help triage them across the pathway and ensure their specific needs are met.

Subject to the impact of the pilot, the long-term plan is for this new pathway to eventually integrate with the wider transformation programme. Health Innovation West of England will continue to input through exploring opportunities to partner with digital innovators to support children and young people and their families while they navigate this needs assessment.

Supporting and signposting innovators

Many innovations show early promise, and identifying and supporting those that can help address real needs is critical. As part of the national Health Innovation Network, we play a vital role in this.

Our team offers a range of support services and guidance to innovators who are developing products and services with the potential to improve patient outcomes, increase efficiencies and grow the UK health sector economy.

In 2023/24, we supported a total of 235 healthcare innovators, providing essential guidance and feedback, assessing market readiness and helping to develop value propositions.

Through this support, we have contributed to the Health Innovation Network helping companies to leverage £475.8 million through grants and private investment. This collective support has enabled these companies to create 554 new jobs and safeguard a further 755.

Innovation Exchange

In addition to providing direct, tailored support to companies, our Innovation Exchange website is also designed to help innovators navigate the healthcare market. Last year, 4,708 people accessed our online support and resources, which includes:

  • local and national funding opportunities
  • a range of business support services and business development programmes
  • toolkits and guides
  • case studies on innovators we have worked with.

Find out more at

Building capability and sharing knowledge

An important aspect of our work is to help develop capability and expertise around the development and adoption of innovation.

We support our local health and care community to think and work innovatively and implement new ways of working using design thinking and quality improvement (QI) methods and tools.

West of England Academy

Our popular Academy offers a wide range of support and events, helping health and care professionals and innovators build their knowledge and essential skills for innovative thinking and working.

This year’s webinars and training sessions included motivational coaching and evaluation theory and practice, as well as a bespoke ‘Live QI’ series for participants in our Black Maternity Matters programme.

The Academy team also designed the development programme for Innovate Healthier Together and delivered training to the first cohort. This is
a three-module accredited course to develop participants’ skills in design-thinking, quality improvement and facilitation.

The Academy continues to expand its range of online resources. There have been 4,357 views to date of our Academy videos, while 1,777 people have accessed our learning and development resources this year.

Find out more at

Evidence and evaluation toolkits

This year we relaunched our online evaluation and evidence toolkits with an improved structure and design.

Created and managed in partnership with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Integrated Care Board (ICB) and NIHR ARC West, the toolkits aim to give people working in the health and care sector advice on running service evaluations and using evidence to inform service development.

Both toolkits include a step-by-step guide to the evaluation and evidence cycles, checklists and resources. They are a great place to start for anyone new to evidence and evaluation, or for people wanting to brush up on their skills.

Find out more at and

Evidence repository

Our online Evidence Repository is a portal for sharing non-peer reviewed documents not published elsewhere to promote a culture of shared learning and collaboration.

Hosted on FutureNHS and developed in partnership with local integrated care systems and hospital libraries, the ever-expanding repository supports rapid evidence sharing of grey literature.

Find out more at

Back to Annual Report 2023-24