NIAWeb259“It is clear that the link between quality and productivity expectations is innovation. As the NIA enters its third year, never before has the importance of innovation for our NHS been as essential as it is now. And that is why the NIA truly comes of age in 2018.”


Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Chair of the NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme Board, Chairman of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust


The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is saving and improving lives by supporting the spread of high impact, evidence-based innovations across the NHS. A national accelerator, the NIA is an NHS England initiative delivered in partnership with the country’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

The NIA aims to support delivery of the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) – creating the conditions and cultural change needed for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically through the NHS. It generates system-wide learnings as to how to spread innovation at pace for greater patient and population benefit, providing real-time practical insights to inform national strategy.

The NIA’s unique model offers a dual focus of support for ‘Fellows’ – individuals with a set of values and passion for scaling innovation to benefit a wider population, with a commitment to share their learnings – and their represented high impact, evidence-based innovation. Launched in July 2015, the NIA is currently supporting 36 Fellows to scale 37 innovations, with 964 additional NHS sites now using NIA innovations, £40M raised in external funding, 77 jobs created, 23 awards won, and 13 innovations now selling internationally.

Challenge / problem identified

As highlighted in the FYFV, the NHS faces many pressures, including an ageing population, more long-term conditions, rising costs and constrained budgets. State-of-the-art development, cost-effective solutions and new ways of delivering care are essential to improving patient outcomes.

The NIA’s annual international Call seeks innovations which demonstrate – in practice – significant outcomes for lower cost, which are ready to be diffused across England’s NHS. The themes of the Call align with national priorities, and have previously included: primary care, urgent and emergency care, mental health, prevention, earlier intervention, and long-term condition management.

The NIA aims to improve outcomes and give patients more equitable access to the latest products, services and technology, by focusing on the conditions and cultural changes needed to enable the NHS to adopt innovations that matter to patients at scale and pace. This includes: solution identification; providing spread support to innovators; sharing insight and knowledge on spread with the NHS system; and helping to unlock barriers nationally.

Actions taken

The NIA was created in response to the FYFV, with the triple aim of:

  1. Creating the conditions and cultural change necessary for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically in the NHS
  2. Deliver innovation into practice for demonstrable patient and population benefit
  3. Learn from Fellows’ as real-world case studies so that others benefit.

The NIA selects best in world, evidence-based innovations ready to scale; recruits highly skilled, passionate individuals (‘Fellows’) able to lead nationally and internationally; and offers bespoke, tailored support to enable spread.

As evidenced in the year one Evaluation of the NIA:

  • The NIA’s unique model – with a dual focus on both Fellow and innovation – works
  • NIA innovations are improving patient outcomes and reducing cost to the system
  • Using the Fellows as real-world case studies is identifying some of the challenges and enablers around getting uptake across the NHS
  • Access to a supportive, skilled NIA Core Team linked to a wider national network, plus the NIA brand, were identified as two conditions for supporting Fellows to spread their innovations.

Impacts / outcomes

  • niaThree annual calls seeking world-best innovations in response to challenges based on England’s population health needs and NHS priorities
  • 36 Fellows recruited, representing 37 high impact, evidence-based innovations
  • 1,242 additional NHS sites now using NIA innovations
  • £41.6 million external funding secured
  • 162 jobs created
  • 49 awards won
  • 21 NIA innovations selling internationally.

An independent evaluation of year one of the NIA demonstrated impact on innovation scaling and benefits to the UK’s health care system:

  • Over three-quarters of year one Fellows attribute tangible progress in innovation take-up to participation in the NIA
  • Long-term benefits of the NIA include people being able to function more effectively in their daily lives and participate more fully in society with less or minimal support from external health or social welfare agencies
  • Future benefits of the NIA include reduced health inequalities from improved access to health care, NHS service improvement, and improvements to global healthcare through international scaling of innovation
  • Wider impacts of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) include benefits to costs and quality of care through prevention of disease occurring and prevention of exacerbation of an existing disease, reducing the need for a GP visit or hospital treatment.

Find out more about the individual innovations the NIA has facilitated here:

“From the process of application to interviews and eventual acceptance and implementation, you will learn a huge amount – about patients’ needs, the NHS needs’ and your own needs for development. [The NIA] is an amazing opportunity.

Sophie Bostock, Sleepio (2016 Fellow)


Plans for the future

NHS England and the 15 AHSNs have committed to continue funding the NIA for 2018/19. The NIA is expected to launch a fourth international Call in 2018, with themes to be confirmed. Details of the upcoming Call and application process will be available at

In 2018, the NIA will look to develop an alumnus, as the three-year support offer comes to an end for year one (2015) Fellows.

Find out more

Visit the NHS Innovation Accelerator website for more information.

Contact for help and advice @NHSAccelerator

Laura Boyd, Programme Manager, NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA)
T: 020 3108 2329

Rebekah Tailor, Communications and Engagement Manager, NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA)
T: 020 3108 2329

Programme duration: January 2015 – present