On 6 November over 60 University staff and students and external partners attended the official launch of the University of Westminster’s Health Innovation Ecosystem (HIE).
HIE is a new initiative focused on interdisciplinary innovation in national and international health research and knowledge exchange, supported generously by the Quintin Hogg Trust.
The launch, titled ‘Bridging the Divide: Collaboration, Research and Innovation for Better Health’, provided an overview of HIE’s research and the many ways HIE works with local communities, patients, health professionals, policy makers and science and industry to find real, workable solutions to global health challenges.
The event was introduced by Professor Thierry Chaussalet, HIE Director and Professor on the Data Science and Analytics BSc Honours course, and Dr Peter Bonfield, University Vice-Chancellor, who linked HIE’s important work to the University’s commitment to its own and the wider community’s health and wellbeing through robust, ethical and compassionate research. He stressed the University’s history of working with external partners to inform health policy through research, with Social Prescribing, and the Centre for Resilience (both part of HIE), as examples.
The event was followed with brief ‘research bites’ summarising HIE’s research into Optimal Health, Psychosocial Studies of Health, Resilience, Social Prescribing, and Health and Social Care Modelling
Dr Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust, gave a speech titled ‘Getting research into policy and practice and vice-versa’, where he considered the challenges of translating innovation, policy and research ideas into practice. He noted that different languages and approaches, and the lack of clear leadership and pathways for making innovation happen, were major obstacles to change. Dr Edwards suggested that effecting innovative changes in health policy and practice required using diverse disciplines and methods, designing better support for implementation, a mix of scientific knowledge and practical wisdom based on experience, and a commitment to innovation on the part of the health sector itself.
Professor Thierry Chaussalet said: “Conducting interdisciplinary, collaborative health research is not just a question of working across disciplines or using multiple methods. Looking beyond the university walls to engage in productive, forward-thinking partnerships with local communities, patients, health professionals, policy makers and science and industry can help us to develop as researchers and produce the most innovative, robust and impactful research that we can.”