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How we do it

We take a structured and proven approach to managing innovative ideas that offers a consistent and objective assessment of the relative merits of any idea and then take the necessary steps to ensure that it is progressed in a timely and logical fashion. This is done by direct involvement of the NHS Innovations South West BDMs or by the TILs themselves.  Whatever the idea, this approach ensures that all projects are approached in a fair and equitable manner.  Any decisions are based on a structured and rigorous assessment of the benefits offered and potential returns that could be gained versus the investment required to bring them to fruition and commercialisation. 

The Innovation Process

The innovation journey is divided up into a 5 stage process:


The idea comes from an employee  and is submitted using a standard initial assessment form to the local TIL or NISW BDM where there isn't a TIL in place.  This information and subsequent discussions are then used to quickly establish a "balanced scorecard"  that provides an objective view of the relative merits of all projects and is used to help make decisions about the most appropriate next steps.

The nature of the clinical need or problem that the idea addresses is assessed, as well as the effectiveness of the proposed solution.

Market Search

The potential usage and size of the market opportunity is established by utilising links with other NHS organisations eg. NHS Supply Chain, accessing incidence data eg. Hospital Episode Statistics, and assessment of what other competitor products there are already in the market and general searches  In addition, assessment  of competitor products and/or treatments is carried out in order to assess the novelty of the innovation and it's possible commercial appeal. This information and the core details of the invention are then used to start to build a business case in order to support further investment by the originating Trust and/or to help secure other funding via appropriate grant schemes eg. i4i, Biomedical Catalyst Fund, etc.

Intellectual Property

An assessment is made to establish ownership of any IP that may arise from the project , as well as what existing IP there is on similar ideas/devices.  This will involve various searches and if necessary, experienced patent lawyers are used to provide a formal assessment of "Freedom To Operate" and the potential for protection of any IP that arises.  A cost benefit model is then established and where appropriate, IP protection activity is then commenced.

Proof of Concept

The BDM and/or TIL then assists with identification of suitable partners where needed, in order to provide CAD drawings, simple and working prototypes, research input, etc. and works closely with the innovator and any collaborators to manage the project towards regulatory approval and clinical trials.

The evidence that the idea works and demonstrates benefit is then worked up into a case study that can be used to faciltate discussions with possible commercial partners and to secure any further investment that is required to progress to commercialisation.


On completion of the business case and proof of concept, further funding for clinical trials will be sought via grants and/or a potential commercial partner, in order to build a full regulatory and evidence package to achieve commercialisation and take the idea and diffuse it across the NHS and other healthcare markets globally. Having identified a suitable commercial partner, appropriate licensing agreements will then be developed and put in place that ensure the Trust receives royalty payments and revenue starts to flow back into the Trust to support further innovations.