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Enabling the scale-up of innovation through collaborative networks

What are we trying to do?
There are 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England; within Greater Manchester the AHSN is integrated into Health Innovation Manchester (HInM), which is an umbrella organisation bringing together a number of other local academic, innovation and patient safety focussed networks. 


Previous research about the role and work of AHSNs only covered a two-year ‘forming’ period, and significant research gaps still remain around how their operations and impacts develop as these networks mature.  In particular, it is still unknown how innovations successfully implemented in 'pilot' sites can be spread at scale to other organisations within a region. We are keen to explore this within HInM and this study will look to answer ‘How does a collaborative place-based network enable the scale-up of research-based innovation?’ 


Why is this important?
Internationally, governments invest heavily in health and medical research. The UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) administers an annual research budget of approximately £1 billion. Yet evidence consistently demonstrates slow, incomplete and inconsistent translation of research into actual clinical practice to benefit patient care and population health. Governments and health departments have become increasingly concerned about this problem. Promising policy solutions include the development of collaborative networks bringing together academics, policymakers and health professionals.


Failure to translate the investment in research into improved patient and health outcomes represents a costly, missed opportunity


How are we doing it?
We are using a mixed-method, longitudinal, case study approach, to enable an in-depth exploration of HInM’s innovation pipeline as an overarching ‘umbrella case’. We are focussing  on 4 four innovation ‘tracer’ projects, which are at different stages along the HInM innovation pipeline.


We have four key objectives:


  1. To explore the mechanisms through which the network influences the scale-up of research-based innovations across a region;
  2. To investigate the link between the scale-up of innovation and the processes of learning that unfold within the collaborative network;
  3. To compare the operation of these mechanisms and processes across different innovation cases, contexts, different stages of Covid-19 response and over time in general;
  4. To facilitate organisational learning about the scale-up of research-based innovations by working together with HInM stakeholders, with a particular attention to learning derived from he Covid-19 response.


Who we are working with



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Senior Programme Lead


Mike Spence