NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme: Igniting Innovation in Healthcare

NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme: Igniting Innovation in Healthcare


Aleah Tomlinson-Forrester, Medial Writer at Havas Lynx Group, and Imaan Ali, Junior Medical Writer at Havas Lynx Group attended the 2023 NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. This blog piece from Aleah and Imaan summarises the two-day event, highlighting some of the talks, sessions, and key takeaways from this year’s programme.


Day one

July 12th marked the first evening of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. Hosted by Havas Lynx Group in collaboration with NHS England and Anglia Ruskin University, this programme seeks to arm NHS staff with entrepreneurial acumen, fostering innovation within our healthcare system. The evening was a rich tapestry of inspirational talks from experts in the field, industry advice, and engaging conversations.

The event kicked off with a warm welcome address from Professor Tony Young, OBE, National Clinical Lead for Innovation at NHS England and NHS Improvement. As the architect of the entire programme, Professor Young emphasised the importance of celebrating personal achievements and the crucial role of ‘fearless feedback’ in the journey to success. His enthusiasm was palpable as he touched on the agenda for the coming days and spoke about the programme’s success so far.

Following Professor Young, Rebecca Pope, Innovation Lead at Roche, took centre stage. A perfect blend of warmth, humour, and intellect, she shared her journey from academia to innovation. Currently working with Great Ormond Street Hospital on integrating new AI-powered technology into patient databases to bring personalised healthcare to children, she was an invaluable case study in the importance of upskilling. Her talk went beyond her achievements; she rounded off with several key takeaways, encouraging attendees to always articulate the value of their innovations for patient pathways, and leverage their online presence through websites like LinkedIn.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Vernon Bainton, then guided the attendees through his journey from medicine to med comms, underlining the importance of learning from failures and never being afraid to ask for help. His tale of resilience resonated with the audience and truly drove home the idea that ‘failure is always an option.’

Next up was Ash Kalraiya, orthopaedic surgeon turned CEO of MediShout. His captivating tale of turning professional frustration into an innovation that addresses technical issues during operations was a standout moment of the evening. His journey – peppered with rejection, perseverance, and ultimately success – was a source of inspiration for all. He stressed the importance of building a strong core team and leveraging networking and programmes like the Clinical Entrepreneur Programme to their fullest potential.

Rounding off the evening was Dr Lloyd Humphries, Director of Cogniss. A pioneer in digital health, he delved into the intriguing world of cognitive health and technology, breaking down how important it is to ‘make the sophisticated and scientific, simple’, a common theme in healthcare communications.

The evening was a testament to the power of innovation. The potent blend of inspiration, learning, and networking was tailored to empower NHS staff to be the change they wished to see, and provide them with a unique platform to cultivate their ideas and transform them into tangible solutions.


Day two

Day two of the ‘Pitstop’ opened with an introduction from Vernon Bainton, highlighting the importance of championing mental health among healthcare professionals, something we should all have at the forefront of our minds.

Andy Gardner, Chief Strategy Officer at Havas Lynx Group, followed giving a masterclass in strategy, branding, and thus how your branding can make or break a product. Andy captivated the audience through an interactive activity of marketing a product based on your customer and industry trends.

We were then joined by Charlotte Dawson, Research Director at The One Off, another London-based creative agency who pride themselves on “building brands aiming to be a positive force in people’s lives.” She led us through their research process and how to interpret consumer trends to drive innovation. “Act on your findings, use the research to persuade and influence” was Charlotte’s recommendation to the entrepreneurs on how they can use research, insights, and data to strengthen their product and brand.

Our Medical Director, Dr Tapas Mukherjee, and Medical Advisor, Gaynor Collier, then provided a dynamic session on how storytelling can be used to bring data and evidence to life. Every day, storytelling helps us to transform overwhelming numbers on a page into a compelling narrative with real purpose.

After lunch, Simon Haynes, Head of Digital at Havas Lynx Group (AMP), guided us on how to navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape that is social networking. A particularly relevant topic following the release of Instagram Threads the previous week.

The penultimate session welcomed Nick McDermott, Deputy Communications Director for the NHS, who echoed Simon’s guidance to proceed with caution when delivering content to the public. He then educated us on the challenges of his role, particularly representing such a poignant organisation. Nick also invited Dr. Benyamin Deldar, a Clinical Entrepreneurship Programme alumnus and co-founder of Deep Medical to the stage to share his experience with the media. Following a run-in with a newspaper, Ben learnt how the media can be both a friend and foe as journalists continually search for the next breaking headline.

The final slot of the day gave the entrepreneurs a chance to take the floor. Brave volunteers pitched their ideas in 60 seconds or less before receiving feedback from the panel. This was an exciting opportunity to hear the innovative ideas of the programme participants whilst benefiting from each other’s feedback. It was incredible to be in a room with some of the brightest minds in the NHS whose innovations may go on to change the healthcare industry. Overall, the NHS Clinical Entrepreneurship pitstop was an engaging, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable meeting and we look forward to hearing about the participants’ successes in the future!

Learn more about the NHS England Entrepreneur Programme here