This search function provides links to outputs produced by NIHR Innovation Observatory. These are briefing notes or reports on new or repurposed technologies. This search will not return all technologies currently in development as these outputs are produced as required for our stakeholders.

Innovation Observatory > Who We Are And What We Do

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Who We Are And What We Do

Welcome to the website for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory. We are the national medical horizon scanning facility located at Newcastle University.


What is ‘horizon scanning?’ And what does the Innovation Observatory do?

Horizon scanning is all in the name: keeping an eye on the future for upcoming change. Understanding future medicines, devices and diagnostics helps shape policy, regulation, approvals and stimulate research activity.

The Innovation Observatory is looking for technologies (Horizon Scanning) that are up to 10 years from being publicly available. The difficulty of course is that not all of these technologies will make it to clinical use. For that reason, we are constantly tracking technologies as they evolve, from patent to patient.

At our core are three activities:

  • Technology Briefings: We provide briefings on technologies to different public stakeholders, from those delivering care and research funders stimulating innovation, to policy makers and advisory bodies. Most, if not all of these briefings, will be publicly available on this website via the search window. We will also be asking the public to propose topics through our engagement work.


  • Advanced horizon scanning tools: We recognise the pressing need to help everyone navigate the increasing amount of information about health technologies, not just our own analysts. To do this we have built an advanced online search engine that allows rapid navigation of different data sources, from clinical trials registries and mHealth apps, to device approvals and academic literature. A first version of this platform will be released for testing in 2018, will be publicly available and will continue to evolve.


  • Patient involvement: Understanding what patients need is vital for successful innovation. We are promoting the dialog between innovators, policy makers and the public by deploying a national online platform for people to learn and help shape innovation. VOICE (Valuing Our Intellectual Capital and Experience) can be used to help give members of the public information, prioritise questions, give insight into care pathways or give their opinion on whether an innovation will work or not.


The  Innovation Observatory is an independent research centre hosted by the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, National Institute for Smart Data Innovation, and Newcastle Academic Health Partners – a collaboration involving Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

We benefit from being embedded within Science Central, a partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and L&G Capital.  Science Central is the largest urban regeneration programme of its kind in the UK and a test bed for innovation and sustainability.

We are funded by the National Institute for Health Research .


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