The AHSN Network hosted a packed Innovation Zone at NHSConfedExpo, which was held at Manchester Central on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 June 2023.

Thousands of people attended the conference, which brought delegates from across the health and care sector together to connect and explore the most pressing challenges facing the sector, alongside the most promising innovations with the proof or potential to transform health and care.

The Innovation Zone was the largest of the five feature zones, showcasing innovations, ideas and solutions, and was comprised of a mini theatre, networking space, innovator pods and partner exhibitor stands.

During the two-day event, our Innovation Zone Programme delivered a series of speaker sessions in the mini theatre on some of the most important topics in health innovation, including real-world evidence; health inequalities; patient safety; mental health and sustainability. We hosted six AHSN content sessions, alongside two sessions split between our partners: NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, NHS Innovation Accelerator, Life Sciences Hub Wales and SBRI Healthcare.

Experts from across the Network also spoke at a number of sessions across the wider conference, with topics ranging from healthy ageing; innovation export; and early diagnosis of flu and heart failure to respiratory disease patient backlog; the MedTech Funding Mandate; and secure data for a sustainable health and care service.

The Innovation Zone showcased 24 companies that have worked with AHSNs, delivering products and services that are adding real value across healthcare. We were also joined by the team behind the new NHS Innovation Service, created by NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative.

In addition to hosting the Innovation Zone, we used the conference as a platform to release the AHSN Network’s Patient Safety progress report, delivering an update to our patient safety plan. The report reflects progress made across focus areas, including managing deterioration in care homes; maternity and neonatal health; safer tracheostomy care; medicines safety; mental health; and system safety. You can find out more and read the report here.

Our annual Impact Report 2022-23 was also previewed at the conference. The report summarises how our national initiatives have benefitted more than 2.3 million patients and generated more than £1.8 billion of investment for the UK economy, during our last five-year license agreement. Read the report here.

NHS ConfedExpo podcast playlist: A series of podcast episodes, featuring speakers at NHS ConfedExpo, are now available. Find the full playlist here. 

Presentations: You can find all the presentations from the Innovation Zone’s content sessions on our event, or click on each of the session titles below.

What is ‘real-world evidence’ and why is it so crucial to the successful spread of innovation? [Discussion – no formal slides available]

Speakers: Neville Young – Director of Enterprise & Innovation, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN; Ilias Zapantis – Director of Discovery, UCL Partners; Dr Greg Burch – Co-founder and Clinical Director, Tiny Medical Apps; Nick Hex – Associate Director (NHS and public sector), York Health Economic Consortium; Martin Eades – Managing Partner Priory Medical Group.

Sustaining adoption of innovation in the NHS [Discussion – no formal slides available]

Speakers: Konrad Dobschuetz – National Director, NHS Innovation Accelerator; Antoinette Honegan – Founder, Muther Tongue; Laura Earnshaw – Founder and CEO, myHappymind; Piyush Mahapatra – Director of Innovation, Open Medical; Dr Masood Ahmed – Chief Digital Officer, Health Innovation Network and West Midlands AHSN and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, NHS Shopshire, Telford and Wrekin ICS.

The potential for digital and AI innovations to support elective recovery

Speakers: Jenni West – Associate Director of Digital Transformation, Innovation Agency (Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast); Michelle Coleiro – Head of Programmes, Innovation Agency (Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast); Dr Amanda Begley – Exec Director of Digital Transformation, Health Innovation Network; Sam Hayes – Consultant Respiratory Physiotherapist Knowsley Community Respiratory Service, Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Theodora Ephson – Head of Growth, Ufonia.

How patient safety and care is being supported

Speakers: Natasha Swinscoe – Chief Executive, West of England AHSN; Katie Whittle – Head of Programmes, Innovation Agency (Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast); Jodie Mazur – Head of Delivery: Safety and Improvement, West Midlands AHSN; Alison White – Head of Patient Safety, Health Innovation Network South London.

Innovation and rapid evaluation helping address inequalities

Speakers: Richard Stubbs – Chief Executive, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN and Vice Chair, The AHSN Network; Sally Irwin – Project Manager for Diabetes, Health Innovation Network; Laura Boyd – Director of Implementation, UCLPartners; Cathy McCabe – Evaluation and Learning Partner, South West AHSN.

How digital and robotic innovations are integral to transforming services

Speakers: Cari-Anne Quinn – Chief Executive Officer, Life Sciences Hub Wales; Kenneth Lim – Surgeon, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board; Ana Raduc – General Manager for UK and Ireland, CMR Surgical; Jonathan Morgan – Programme Manager for the All-Wales Robotics Programme, Life Sciences Hub Wales; Raffaella Roncone – Assistant Director and Head of Innovation and Enterprises LGC Group; Carey McClellan – CEO and Clinical Director, getUBetter; Dafydd Loughran – CEO, Concentric Health.

Net zero – innovations helping the NHS to achieve its net zero targets

Speakers: Kathy Scott – Deputy Chief Executive, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN; Dr Natalia Kurek – Deputy Director, Greener NHS Programme; Dr Dominique Allwood – Chief Medical Officer & AHSN Deputy, UCLPartners; Pete Waddingham, Net Zero Lead, The AHSN Network; Piyush Mahapatra – Director of Innovation, Open Medical.

How innovation is transforming mental health and neurodiversity services for children and young people.

Speakers: Laura Semple – Director – National programmes, The AHSN Network; Rachel Surtees – Director of Implementation, UCLPartners; Tim Hobbs Chief Executive Dartington Service Design Lab; Jill Owens – Early Intervention in Eating Disorders National Programme Lead, Health Innovation Network South London; Nicole McGlennon, Managing Director, East Midlands AHSN.

Watch this space for podcast content, coming soon!

  • Collaborating to improve access and equity of care for sickle cell sufferers

    Harriet Smith is the Health Innovation Network's MTFM National Lead for Spectra Optia. In this blog, she outlines the collaborative efforts to improve the support available to people with sickle cell disease, and tackle long standing inequalities. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious and lifelong health condition. People with SCD produce unusually shaped red [...]

  • Until tackling health inequalities becomes business as usual, innovation is our best chance of equity

    Dr Stuart Monk, National Programme Director for the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) Programmes at the Health Innovation Network, talks about the pivotal role of innovation tackling healthcare inequalities in the NHS. At the Royal Society of Medicine’s Tackling Inequalities conference it was clear from the passion in the room that great progress has been made [...]

  • Where health innovation is concerned, 15 approaches are better than one

    Dr Phil Jennings, Vice Chair of the Health Innovation Network and Chief Executive of Health Innovation North West Coast, discusses why the Network’s collective relicensing gives innovation a better chance of success. In any one day in England, 1.2 million people attend a GP appointment, over a quarter of a million people have an outpatient [...]