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by Graham Watson, SHIL
01 April 2021
Associate feature: Innovating together


Associate feature: Innovating together

It is now almost 20 years since the inception of Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL), and therefore an appropriate time to reflect, consider progress – and, most importantly, plan next steps.

Across those two decades, we have worked in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop, and commercialise new innovations from healthcare professionals.

That role has taken on new meaning in recent times and we believe it will continue to evolve significantly as the country collectively looks to emerge from a hugely challenging pandemic into a ‘new normal’ where the importance of promoting and supporting healthcare innovation has never been clearer. SHIL has a critical role to play in that transition.

Indeed, while the advent of COVID-19 has undoubtedly stretched healthcare services to their limit, it has also globally inspired innovation at unprecedented speed thanks to an incredible new spirit of collaboration.

How we continue to drive innovation, stimulate transformation, and emerge stronger are vital areas of focus, both now and beyond COVID-19. They are also the impetus for SHIL’s bold new five-year strategy.

Innovating Together presents a vision for an entrepreneurial Scotland where healthcare innovation thrives. The role of SHIL is to inspire, accelerate, and commercialise impactful healthcare innovations for health, economic and social benefit.

Set around four strategic commitments, and fully aligned with Scotland’s National Performance Framework and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it underlines the unique strengths of SHIL, which provide the foundation for collaborative growth.

Firstly, a connected, collaborative community is a central theme throughout the new strategy. SHIL is well positioned in this respect.

Embedded within local NHS research, development and innovation teams, SHIL combines national oversight with targeted health board engagement and a successful record of building strong, mutually beneficial connections with national and regional innovation centres, academia, development agencies and funders.

Secondly, harnessing expertise for optimal innovation means we can maximise what is immediately available to us from the vast talent pool working every day across the NHS, but also consider the new doors that can open when we reach out to share knowledge and collaborate successfully.

Thirdly, more work is needed across the sector to minimise all barriers – systemic, financial or otherwise – to ensure innovations of substance and scale can be expedited onto the market and we can accelerate a better healthcare future.

And finally, to deliver real value from healthcare innovation we must focus not just on health, but social and economic benefits too, helping to spotlight the significance of health innovation within the wider entrepreneurial vision for Scotland.

Fundamentally, we believe that groundbreaking ideas have the power to significantly improve health and social care for all, but they cannot be realised in isolation. Collaboration is key to Scottish healthcare’s innovation-led future.

Graham Watson is the executive chair of Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL).

This piece was sponsored by SHIL.

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