AHSNs to coordinate ‘innovation exchanges’

The government has announced a major initiative to drive the rapid uptake of health innovation – with a central role for AHSNs.

Today’s announcement by the Office for Life Sciences, confirms that England’s 15 AHSNs will coordinate ‘Innovation Exchanges’ so that innovative new diagnostic tools, treatments and medical technologies reach patients faster.

Welcoming the announcement, Chair of the AHSN Network, Dr Liz Mear said:

“England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks support the healthcare system to quickly identify and spread new, better and cheaper ways to deliver services for patients and populations – since 2013 our work has benefited 6M people and we have spread over 200 innovations across the health and care system.

“We are delighted to be providing the Innovation Exchange model for the Accelerated Access Review and will build on our existing track record of delivery; matching solutions to challenges and directing our networks and expertise to assess products and promote their spread throughout England.

“The Innovation Exchanges will be built on the partnerships AHSNs have built in their local areas, bringing partners together across health, care and industry and will support the supply of products for the Accelerated Access Partnership and build on AHSNs’ existing expertise of supporting industry partners.”

Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive Officer of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN said: This is excellent news for the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network and our network of innovators and NHS partners.  Yorkshire has a thriving clinical entrepreneurship culture and the Innovation Exchanges will give the region’s best innovators a solid platform to build on. This will benefit patients not only in Yorkshire and Humber but also nationally.

Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive of ABHI, one of the AHSN Network’s key partner organisations, said:

“These additional funding initiatives will complement work already in place on Innovation Tariff, NICE processes and horizon scanning. MedTech has the potential to improve the efficiency of treatment pathways and deliver better healthcare outcomes. This overall package will benefit patients, the health system and the wider economy.”

Dr Richard Torbett, Executive Director of Commercial Policy at ABPI, another of our partners, added:

“ASHNs are a critical delivery partner for bringing the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) to life, and £39 million of investment is an important first step in pulling industry and the health service together to realise the Review’s ambition.”

AHSNs will use their established networks and expertise to:

  • identify priorities and then act as honest brokers across sectors to bring people and organisations together
  • provide the first port of call for information – for example signposting commercial innovators and matching already proven solutions to challenges faced by local NHS organisations
  • share best practice around health and care organisations, and offer expert advice about how to get transformation and innovation adopted
  • identify opportunities for patients to take part in trials and pilots
  • work with health and commercial partners to test out solutions
  • collaborate as a national network of 15 to identify what is working best locally, and then scale it nationally.


The Innovation Exchanges are one of the key outcomes of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR), an independent report commissioned by the government and published in 2016.

The AAR looked at ways to ensure patients get quicker access to innovative new diagnostic tools, treatments and medical technologies – with the aim of making the UK a world-leader in healthcare innovation.

AHSNs will receive funding for the next three years to coordinate the Innovation Exchange process.

More information: click here for background to the Accelerated Access Review and for more detail about the Innovation Exchange announcement click here.