Barriers to innovation must be broken down post-Covid

New report calls for more agile approaches to medical innovation post-pandemic

27th April 2021

Smarter more agile approaches to medical innovation must continue post-pandemic, according to a new report published today. 

From PPE manufacturing to mass testing, and vaccination development to delivery of remote medical appointments, the UK’s health science system stepped up to the challenge of developing and delivering transformative solutions that addressed urgent needs posed by the pandemic in record time. 

Leading authorities in medical innovation are now calling for a suite of measures to be considered that will enable barriers to innovation to be broken down to allow the collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit adopted during the last 12 months to continue. 

A new report, published following the IGNITE Summit 2020, sets out a series of “key game changers” to help build a resilient, prosperous and pioneering world-leading health innovation system. 

These include: 

  • Urgent breaking down of barriers in collaborative science, from devolved leadership to interdisciplinary awareness. 
  • Intervention across the innovation pathway to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture, from responding positively to failure, to innovation governance and alignment of incentives. 
  • A precise focus on needs awareness: accurate identification and articulation of unmet need in health and social care and optimising industry input. 
  • State-supported life sciences cluster development to attract industry and external investment in medical innovation. 
  • A focus on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in a post-Brexit era as a force to continue to drive innovation. 

IGNITE is a medical innovation summit run by University College London (Academic Careers Office), which in 2020 was jointly organised with the Collaboration for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (CASMI) and the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA).  

The Summit, which was co-chaired by Sir John Tooke and Dr Séamus O’Neill, brought together national and international leaders from across the medical innovation field to discuss what learning can be taken forward as the country emerges from the worst global pandemic in a century. 

Professor Sir John Tooke, chair of CASMI and NHSA Non-Executive Director, said: “We have a real opportunity to build on the incredible innovative mindset that has been embraced across the health system during the pandemic. By breaking down barriers that have long held innovation back, we have witnessed cross sector collaborations and partnerships driven by urgent need that have resulted in transformative innovations reaching patients faster than ever before. 

We must keep this momentum going post-pandemic and develop it even further to create an environment within the UK that encourages and enables medical innovation within the NHS, academia and industry. 

Dr Séamus O’Neill, Chief Executive at the NHSA, added: As the country looks to recover post-Covidthere is much to be learned from the agile approach to health innovation that helped tackle the challenges of the pandemic. 

“The UK’s health science excellence is unparalleled and there must be targeted action immediately to support the continued growth and innovation and to enable other major health challenges to be addressed with the same vigour and energy.” 

IGNITE is a collaboration between the Centre for the Advancement of Medical Innovation (CASMI) and the UCL Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The IGNITE summit is in its fourth year, with the first two iterations held in London and the third in South Africa with support from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

IGNITE enables established and emergent leaders from academia, NHS, industry and charity sectors to drive and accelerate change in their fields and across sectors. The IGNITE debate leads and participants discussed the challenges facing those engaged in medical innovation and the transformation required to address unmet clinical need faster and more efficiently. 

Read the full report ‘IGNITE Summit 2020: Learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate medical innovation’ here

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