MaineHealth Innovation Center
Care team members in every corner of our health system have unique and important insights that can advance the healthcare opportunities they see every day.
Now we have the expertise and leadership provided by our new MaineHealth Innovation Center to accelerate this work. We have the opportunity to leverage our workforce’s brilliance to drive forward innovative solutions that will benefit the patients and communities that we serve.
The Center provides the needed infrastructure, pathways, and support for any of our 22,000 care team members across the system to explore their novel ideas to:
- reinvent accepted care team models
- redefine processes
- develop new products
A catalyst for change
Established in 2020, the MaineHealth Innovation Center fosters a culture of innovation across our healthcare system, supporting 22,000 colleagues who serve 1.1 million patients in Maine and New Hampshire. We help accelerate creative solutions to solve today’s complex healthcare challenges.
From incubation to acceleration
The Center’s early accomplishments include:
The Innovation Blender event series, in partnership with The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, is designed to mix practitioners, researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators from a variety of backgrounds together to ideate on challenges. Each monthly event consists of brainstorming around innovators’ presented challenges and proposed breakthrough technologies. The goal: Increase collisions of incredible people trying to solve big challenges. Past topics have addressed augmented reality in pediatric healthcare, building better tools and systems to protect our brains, low cost and scalable healthcare devices to target early stage cancer, and novel cancer therapeutics.
The Innovation elective is a four-week course approved by the Tufts University School of Medicine designed to expose 4th year medical students to the principles of innovation. The course employs a project-based approach, allowing students to confront real-world healthcare problems and dream up novel solutions — it is hands on, fast-paced, and 100% interactive. By educating future physicians, we can embed the principles of innovation into how they approach patient care, developing an entrepreneurial mindset that they will take with them for the rest of their careers.
The Innovation Cohort empowers care team members across MaineHealth to advance the “back of the envelope” ideas that address the unmet care needs they see every day. This 8-week program convenes a small group of interdisciplinary healthcare professionals as they embed themselves and their identified project in innovation science, user discovery, prototyping, and intellectual property considerations. Collaborative brainstorming and feedback fuels project breakthroughs and challenges perspectives. An encouraging environment teaches participants how to ask the right questions and connect with innovation colleagues. Past Innovation Cohort projects have yielded 12 provisional patents, two new companies, multiple projects in consideration for licensing deals, and several medical devices and technologies in active development.
The MaineHealth Innovation Fund was established as an internal funding mechanism to foster and accelerate innovation within the system. The Innovation Fund is an essential component of the Innovation Center’s comprehensive approach to research, innovation, education, clinical development, and commercialization. The entrepreneurial activity of MaineHealth faculty, staff, and students will be significantly enhanced through a dedicated source of funding intended to bridge the gap between grant-funded basic research, emerging clinical ideas, and commercialization of technologies. The first stage of funding, the Ignite Fund, will provide small seed capital up to $20,000 to help develop innovations to maturity. The Fund framework is consistent with best practices for seed and gap funding models in use at other universities and healthcare systems. The first call for the Ignite Fund in October 2020 generated 37 innovative ideas from across the MaineHealth system.
Only by working together and taking a comprehensive approach can we start to move the needle on improving health outcomes for our fellow Mainers through innovation. To learn more about these efforts or partner with us on additional opportunities, please contact us today.