Evolution of innovation

25th August 2021

As the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) prepares to bid farewell to Mark Taylor, our Innovation Manager, Mark has spent some time reflecting on the evolving innovation landscape across the region and the supporting role he has played in nurturing its growth.


As I am about to move on from my role at the AHSN NENC to work on the other side of the NHS portfolio, now seems like a great time to reflect on the three (and some) years of working as an Innovation Manager with our various stakeholders.  

When I originally joined the AHSN NENC alongside Charlotte Fox back in 2018 the focus of the role was to provide support to NHS Trusts with their innovations and ideas. Over the years, this has grown from an initial five member Trusts who had contracts with the AHSN NENC to all 11 regional Trusts having some form of innovation agreement with us – and five of those being Technology Transfer Agreements which I assisted to get started.

Alongside the objectives which had been agreed within these contracts, the majority of the Trusts utilised this funding to employ an innovation lead to work side-by-side with the clinicians, NMAHPs (nurses, midwives and allied health professionals) and everyone across the board in their Trust who has an innovation, idea, unmet need or query.

Over the last three years it has been a great privilege to work alongside so many different Trusts on such varied projects and being able to assist them with the resources and expertise the AHSN NENC has to offer. During that time, we have supported unmet needs calls, real world evaluations, NHSX bids, as well as many great projects and innovations. This has been across the board from idea through to commercialisation and everything in between.

It has also been incredibly rewarding to see the growth of innovation within healthcare across the region in recent years, with more and more people engaged. I’m proud to have supported those who are delivering this on the frontline as part of my role with the AHSN NENC.

As a result, this has led to increased representation in the Innovation Forum, which was set up by Charlotte to assist with the creation of a regional community for those involved in innovation to help spread and adoption region-wide. The growth of innovation has also led to a demand from other organisations and a rise in interest in healthcare from different sectors to present their opportunities to the teams.

The AHSN NENC has grown as an organisation during my time here, from a small team that has gradually expanded to cover so many different areas within healthcare. It’s been great to be part of the economic growth team during this period.

Looking back, it’s been an honour to have been part of this exciting evolution within the organisation which, within innovation, has felt like it has grown to be a cornerstone of support and a go-to organisation in the regional innovation landscape.

It will be great to keep the great working relationship which the AHSN NENC has with the Trusts across the region within the new role I will be moving into it. But from the other side of the Technology Transfer contract where I will be working more closely with the frontline teams and drawing on all of the support which the AHSN NENC has to offer.