Spotlight on Health Innovation

dhbMore than 3000 people work in the medical community in the Manawatu region –people who could potentially come up with lots of new ideas across a range of areas in the health sector.

“The medical community is a technically-minded, innovative group of people,” says Dean Tilyard, BCC chief executive. “We identified the health sector as a growth area that we are keen to explore. We’ve worked with a hospital-based physiotherapist on a technology for asthmatics, and we’ve worked with a concept out of Massey for defining the surgical boundaries to skin cancer that has an ENT surgeon closely involved. There are a lot of good ideas in this sector and our goal is to find good ideas.”

When BCC approached the MidCentral District Health Board, it was pleased to find the organisation receptive to working together.

“The DHB had already been exploring ways to encourage more innovation and problem solving,” says Tilyard. “The DHB isn’t interested in start-up businesses; we are – but the DHB is interested in cultural change and encouraging more innovative behaviour.”

BCC invested a fair amount of time learning about the DHB and understanding the health care system and in late September launched the DHB Innovation Competition.

“About 35 nurses, midwives, specialists and management staff attended the launch,” says Jane Donaldson, BCC tech transfer advisor. “It was a cross-section of hospital staff and they had been given brief details around unleashing innovation within MidCentral DHB. By the end of the evening, two had ideas that they had in the backs of their minds and more have come forward in the intervening weeks.”

While Innovate, BCC’s annual ideas competition, is based on the business model canvas and ideas that can grow into a business, the DHB competition takes a slightly different tack.

“It’s still about innovation,” says Donaldson, “but hospital-based ideas may not be about creating a business. They may be about problem solving or improving a process. The competition aims to bring in ideas and provide a process to develop them.”

It is expected that the competition, which Donaldson believes will become an annual event, will result in the entry of a range of ideas. She expects some ideas to be process driven and some to be based on new intellectual property that could have the potential for commercialisation.

“The DHB wants to increase the culture of innovative thinking and we want to assist,” says Donaldson. “It ties in well with BCC’s goal of creating an innovative and entrepreneurial city and region.”

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