Smart Specialisation

Given the importance of the life science and healthcare sector to economic growth, the regional LEPs have chosen this sector as part of their EU Smart Specialisation strategies.  As an example, the North East LEP has stated, in their Strategic Economic Plan: –

“[The North East LEP aims to] establish the region as an international exemplar in Smart Specialisation, open innovation systems and culture through a step-change in the approach to innovation and commercialisation.”

We currently deliver a number of activities that directly align with the above statement and which will be explored, going forward.  In addition to The Bright Ideas in Health Awards (described previously) which is the foremost regional celebration of innovation culture in the region, we describe below a number of ways in which the AHSN will work to deliver the agenda of the LEPs.

The AHSN as an Innovation Hub: We have an established remit to bring together academia, the NHS and industry, on a pan-regional and non-exclusive basis.  The mandate of the AHSN and its geography are truly regional and enable access to the whole of the healthcare sector through the legal status of the company and the representation on the Board.

This single mechanism provided by the AHSN for the engagement of industry with healthcare commissioners and providers is truly unique within the North East and North Cumbria region and accordingly will result in a number of outputs, such as economic growth through the exploitation of NHS partnerships with industry.

Providing a Region-Wide Centre for Open Innovation in Healthcare: Open innovation will be promoted and supported by the AHSN through the brokering of access to the expertise of the NHS.  In support of wealth creation we are creating a clear offering to healthcare based SMEs in the North East and North Cumbria under the banner of The Innovation Pathway. This fits well with the remit of the LEPs. Our vision is that The Innovation Pathway will secure the role of the AHSN as the pre-eminent regional means of access to the NHS and provider of business support to SMEs.

The Member Organisations of the AHSN and its partner organisations are engaged with more than one hundred companies, including regional SMEs and major multinationals, focussing upon the following areas: –

  • Analysis of unmet clinical need;
  • Proof of concept – independent technical evaluation of prototype technologies;
  • Establishing the case for adoption of products and services  – pragmatic steps to establishing the clinical evidence base and inputs for economic modelling;
  • Development of pricing structures;
  • Articulating the value proposition;
  • Finding a route to market for the NHS;
  • Clinical trialling and research design;
  • Identifying clinical and academic partners and negotiating NHS exemplar sites;
  • Data collection and analysis in clinical registers and audits; and
  • Provision of bespoke reports regarding efficacy, safety and diagnostic accuracy of technologies.

The AHSN will continue to identify areas of healthcare provision in the region that are already working with private sector partners or which have significant potential to scale up commercial work for the benefit of the organisations involved. We hope to increase this activity with the support of the regional LEPs, and also to expand the capacity of the nationally and internationally recognised clinical expertise in the region.