Innovation Unleashed at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Thursday 16 January 2020

The development and implementation of innovative technologies to support the healthy growth of children and young people, that have a positive impact upon their lives is a key focus at NIHR CYP MedTech.

This focus also shared by our Surgical Technologies theme lead, Mr Iain Hennessey.

Iain is a Consultant Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as well as Director of Innovation. Iain is currently developing a long term strategy to build the world’s first “Living Hospital”, by adapting emerging technologies to enable the building to care for the children within it, both medically and holistically.


As a Director of Innovation, Iain and the Innovation team wrap around the wider hospital staff, supporting them to develop new and innovative processes, which will improve hospital outcomes for their patients, whilst still enabling staff to continue doing their day job.

The innovation team have a wealth of experience in developing innovative technologies and are pioneering the way in the NHS, by embedding innovation culture throughout the day to day activities of all staff at Alder Hey.

This success has been driven by their distinctive approach of embedding innovation culture from ‘Board to Ward’, through a bespoke programme of activities which engages patients and staff at all levels.

Innovation engagement activities at Alder Hey include:

  1. Weekly innovation drop-ins and dedicated space for staff to articulate their challenges
  2. An online form linked to the innovation database for staff to complete at any time, to communicate their innovative ideas to the innovation team
  3. Dedicated innovation workshops within departments to help facilitate the growth of innovative ideas
  4. The Innovation teams presence at key divisional meetings, solidifying their expertise and ethos throughout the hospital
  5. A dedicated Innovation Hub, providing space to co-create solutions, along with a rapid prototyping centre for staff to mock up their solution ideas

The team work from their 1000 sqm, purpose built ‘Innovation Hub’, which sits at the heart of the Alder Hey campus and bring together diverse commercial and clinical expertise to implement a successful innovation strategy, which is transforming the way patients and staff live and work at Alder Hey.


Over summer 2019, Alder Hey also hosted their inaugural ‘Innovation Festival’. This brought innovation experts, academia and industry, to the staff and patients.  284 NHS staff and 145 families/children were given the opportunity to see and take part in technical demonstrations, test their skills in prototyping and the children had great fun building and programming robots.


Alder Hey have a developed a wide portfolio of projects over the years, using both established and emerging technologies, co-creating solutions in digital and medtech innovation, using Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Sensors and immersive, Virtual/Augmented reality technologies, to develop patient experience platforms, virtual hospital assistants for patients and families and much more!

Iain and the Innovation team are also using their expertise and resources as our partners, to collaborate with NIHR CYP MedTech on a number of surgical technology projects that aim to continue to improve patient care, not only at Alder Hey, but across the whole of the NHS!