AHSNs enable the most effective digital solutions to reach more patients more quickly. We work with patients, industry and the health and care sector to make this happen.

New technology is key to making the NHS the world’s most advanced healthcare system. Harnessing the growing power of digital and AI solutions is fundamental to the ambition of the NHS’s Long Term Plan to transform health and social care, improve treatment and deliver better care for patients.

Accelerators and incubators

All AHSNs work with their Sustainable Transformation Partnerships (STPs), Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and member organisations to understand need and increase the uptake of digital health solutions.

By working with innovators to speed up access, this support ensures that thousands of people benefit from latest technologies to improve their health and that high potential companies grow faster, supporting economic growth across the country.

We offer a number of structured programmes of support, digital health accelerators and incubators.

Digital health accelerators

A family of five digital health accelerators operate out of DigitalHealth.London, East Midlands AHSN, Kent Surrey and Sussex AHSN, Health Innovation Manchester, and South West AHSN.

The initiative began in 2016 when the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme was set up by the three London AHSNs (Health Innovation Network, UCLPartners, and Imperial College Health Partners), MedCity and CW+, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund. It was set up to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health.

In 2018, four additional AHSNs joined DigitalHealth.London in launching digital health accelerators to support high potential small and medium sized companies (SMEs) to develop and deploy solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the NHS, and help innovative digital health innovations to benefit patients faster. Each accelerator is designed to meet specific needs within their local health and care footprint.  They harness economies of scale through shared events that support similar needs, shared learning on navigating the complex NHS landscape. They also share operations, with standards that ensure the best companies are connected with decision makers.

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West Midlands AHSN seeks out innovations that have the potential to save lives, improve the health of the population and create wealth within the region through its Serendip® Digital Accelerator for established digital health SMEs.

Oxford AHSN is a member of Bucks HSCVentures, offering an innovation-led accelerator programme that provides crucial support accelerator support for digital health SMEs.

Yorkshire and Humber AHSN has launched Propel@YH, a six-month digital health accelerator programme targeted at SMEs with digital health innovations for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

UCLPartners hosts the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) on behalf of the AHSN Network. The NIA supports high impact, evidence-based innovations (including digital) to spread nationally

Digital health incubators

Oxford AHSN is part of The Hill Digital Incubator, Oxford’s digital health lab supporting start-up digital health SMEs.

West Midlands AHSN’s Digital Health service seeks out innovations that have the potential to save lives, improve the health of the population and create wealth within the region. This includes:

  • The Serendip® Digital Incubator for start-up digital health SMEs.
  • The Dell Medical School incubator in Austin, Texas to help UK SMEs access US health markets.
  • The FUSE Social Enterprise Incubator for start-up third sector organisations.

Funding initiatives

  • SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England funding programme supported by the AHSN Network. It is designed to accelerate the development of new technologies that meet the needs of the NHS by running competitions that fully-fund ideas and new technologies for known NHS challenges.
  • The Innovation and Technology Tariff (ITT) aims to remove financial barriers to the uptake of innovative products into the NHS to improve care for patients.
  • The Innovation and Technology Payment (ITP) is a follow-up to the ITT and aims to remove barriers to the spread and adoption of innovative products or technologies (medical devices, digital platforms and technologies), and the need for multiple price negotiations.
  • West Midlands AHSN’s Digital Health service includes the West Midlands SME Innovation Fund: convertible venture capital loans for start-up digital health SMEs.