Adopting Innovation A programme supporting health care providers to create the conditions that will enable faster and more effective uptake of innovations and improvements.  

Adopting Innovation

This programme is open for application until 11 November 2020.

  • New programme to build knowledge, skills and confidence within NHS providers to successfully adopt and adapt innovations.  
  • The Adopting Innovation programme will provide funding for four innovation hubs across the UK with up to £475,000 each for two and a half years. 
  • Hubs will act as centres of expertise and support within provider organisations to help them, and their local health systems, become better adopters of innovation. 
  • Expressions of interest are now open until 12.00 (midday) 11 November 2020.

Overcoming the spread challenge – successfully taking up and adapting an innovation in a new setting – is a continuing endeavour for the NHS. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented demands on the health service. Teams are having to rapidly adopt new ways of working and adapt to constant change. As we move into future stages of the response, the NHS will need to continue to innovate to provide patients with the care and support they need.  

Through the Adopting Innovation programme, we will support local health systems across the UK in facilitating effective adoption of health care innovations. In doing this, health care organisations can create long-lasting impact for patients and patient care.   

Invitation to apply

We are inviting partnerships between NHS providers and local health systems across the UK to establish four innovation hubs – centres of expertise and support within provider organisations to help them become better adopters.  

Partnerships will be led by provider organisations who will be expected to demonstrate how they will work with local system partners – in England with their Academic Health Science Networks, and with the relevant national bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Hubs will receive up to £475,000 in funding over two and a half years, to add to their own in-kind contributions and funding. We will also provide guidance and specialist support to help hubs develop their approach for adoption of innovations and commission an evaluation of the programme.  

We expect hubs to build knowledge, skills and confidence in provider organisations and local systems, and to share wider learning of the organisational conditions that support the effective uptake of innovations. The programme will also offer opportunities for peer learning with other organisations. 

This is a unique opportunity to create change to improve patient care. It comes at a time where the NHS needs to accelerate effective uptake of new ideas to meet the challenges of delivering care to all who need it during the pandemic. 

Information webinar

Our pre-recorded webinar introduces Adopting Innovation to applicants. It outlines what we are looking for in applications, gives advice on how to apply, and answers pre-submitted questions.

Watch the webinar below or read our summary of key points, and refer to the Call for applications for further details.

How to apply 

Important: All applicants must read the Call for applications in full before submitting an expression of interest.  

There will be three stages to the application process for this programme. 

1. Expressions of interest 

Expressions of interest are now open until 12.00 (midday) 11 November 2020.   

All partnerships must submit an expression of interest through our applicant portal by the deadline, and late submissions will not be accepted. Applicants will need to register on our applicant portal before applying and can ask for support with any technical issues on   

A single organisation from each partnership must lead the application process. The lead organisation must submit the expression of interest form. We will only accept one expression of interest per partnership. 

Begin your expression of interest by registering for our applicant portal.

2. Full applications 

In early January, we will invite up to 12 teams from the expression of interest phase to submit a full application for the programme by 12.00 (midday) on Friday 12 February 2021.  

The full application must be submitted on our applicant portal by the same applicant that submitted the expression of interest. For support with any technical issues with the applicant portal, please contact

In the full applications, partnerships will be asked to expand on their expressions of interest by submitting detailed outlines of their overall aims, partnership models, measurement and evaluation plans and sustainability strategies. This will include a budget outlining how the funding will be used. 

3. Assessment days 

We will invite shortlisted partnerships to participate in an assessment day on one of four dates in March 2021. These will take place either remotely or in person at our offices in London, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The assessment days will include group exercises and an interview. The interview panels will include members of the public, health care professionals and Health Foundation staff. 


Expressions of interest open 7 October 2020
Deadline for expressions of interest 12.00 (midday) 11 November 2020 
Invitation to submit full applications Early January 2021 
Deadline for full applications 12.00 (midday) 12 February 2021 
Invitation to attend an assessment day Early March 2021 
Assessment days 18, 25, 30 and 31 March 2021 
Teams notified of final decision Early April 2021 

Further reading


Adopting Innovation: investing in skills at the NHS front line

20 October 2020

Adopting innovation is a hot topic for health care providers this year. How can we seize the...

Research report

The spread challenge

September 2018
Research report

This report shines a light on the challenges facing the NHS in improving the uptake of new ideas and...


Understanding the spread challenge

29 October 2018

For several years now, the Health Foundation has supported teams to spread innovation and...

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