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Hooray for HIP

Developing an idea into an NHS-ready product can be a daunting proposition. We know from the hundreds of innovators we support every year that the NHS business landscape can be difficult to navigate. This is why we created our Health Innovation Programme (HIP), now in its fifth year and continuing to support innovators from across the region.

The training programme, created in partnership with SETsquared, the global no.1 university business incubator, specifically addresses the needs of healthcare innovators and covers core skills in entrepreneurship. It’s an intensive, fully-funded, four-day personal development course that helps entrepreneurs from the West of England to develop business propositions with real potential for health and care.

During the bootcamp delegates build their skills in many aspects of entrepreneurship, from market analysis to funding strategies. To help navigate this complex sector, they also benefit from tailored health and life science sector specific modules, such as the NHS as a market place, health economics, regulatory standards, and collecting and evaluating evidence. The course provides an opportunity to make a compelling pitch to an experienced panel (think Dragon’s Den!) and is a supportive and friendly environment to network with like-minded innovators and try out ideas.

“I have found the structured and practical approach to reviewing our business idea invaluable. As a business we are now clear about what we need (and don’t need!) which means we have clarity, focus and energy to move forwards! I enjoyed meeting others in similar positions and sharing our learnings and ideas. The environment of the course is supportive and fun.”

Lucy Hadley, Director
The Development People

“I was initially hesitant about attending HIP but quickly found it to be inspiring and motivating and learnt loads about my own capabilities and others. As always the networking and collaboration with others, especially those outside the NHS was invaluable.”

Marie Altham, Advanced Nurse Practitioner
Churchdown Surgery

Since 2013, 84 innovators have been through HIP in the West of England. This includes delegates from all of our member NHS trusts and universities. Here’s what a couple of recent attendees had to say:

Who: Caz Icke, Specialist
Neurological Physiotherapist,
Founder of SoleSense Ltd
HIP Delegate 2019

What: Pressure sensing insoles in shoes that give visual and auditory feedback about balance. Sound is used to inform users of their posture with changes in pitch and volume, dependent on information from sensors. Visual representation of weight-bearing through the feet is provided on screen with simple graphics.

Why: Caz works with people recovering from brain injuries and identified a need in her patients for more time with physiotherapists to improve their balance. She developed SoleSense to give patients access to intelligent feedback on their posture, available 24/7 to help accelerate their recovery.

“I learnt a great deal on the HIP course – I didn’t know how much I didn’t know! It was packed full of information and gave me a clearer understanding of where I am at and how to shape things in the future. There was great support from those leading the course and I had access to many experts in the field and made many new contacts that can support the path ahead. My sense of confidence has massively increased and I have even had an offer of a business partnership as a result of the pitch on day four. The HIP course has kick-started SoleSense into a much greater chance of success and I am truly grateful!’’

Caz Icke, Specialist
Neurological Physiotherapist, Founder of SoleSense Ltd

“Very useful start trying to put some order to the tangled plate of start-up spaghetti!”

Matthew Burnford, Director
Response Associates

Who: Chen Mao Davies,
Director of Latch Aid Ltd
HIP Delegate 2018

What: LatchAid is a breastfeeding app that utilises interactive 3D technology and virtual breastfeeding support groups to help mothers to learn breastfeeding skills and to connect with others for peer-to-peer and expert support anywhere and anytime.

Why: Chen is a mother of two and had first-hand experience as a once-struggling but later successful breastfeeding mother. Her personal experience motivated her to develop the LatchAid app to help other mothers to succeed in breastfeeding. Chen holds a PhD in Computer Graphics and has 15 years software R&D experience, working for the last eight years on visual effects for blockbuster movies, including the Oscar-winning Gravity and Blade Runner 2049. Applying her industry expertise in the Visual Effects industry, she founded LatchAid and started to develop the LatchAid app whilst on maternity leave. Her daughter also attended HIP and set the record for the youngest age of a delegate at four months old!

“The Health Innovation Programme is amazing! It’s packed with practical lectures, workshops and discussions, and ends with a pitching day to a panel of experts! It brought great opportunities to meet other inspiring healthcare entrepreneurs and business advisors and to get valuable feedback on the start-up business for future development!

“We have benefited so much from HIP and the association with West of England AHSN since last year for training, networking, grant applications and business development. We would recommend HIP and the West of England AHSN to anyone and couldn’t appreciate enough their support!”

Chen Mao Davies,
Director of Latch Aid Ltd

Kate Phillips, Business Development Advisor, and co-ordinator of the HIP programme says:

“We are always looking to support innovative healthcare ideas. This could be a product or service already in development or simply the germ of an idea, but the concept must be realisable into a sustainable business model/proposition and you will need to be genuinely passionate about taking your proposition forward. We’ve some amazing ideas come through our course over the years, and it’s great to see some them flourishing.” ■

Read more in our Innovating Together magazine – a look back at the work of the West of England AHSN in the year 2018-19, and a look ahead to some the work we have planned. Download it here as a PDF or read it below via Issuu