NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Empowering Innovation: Highlights from the Essentials for Innovation Showcase and Launch of the Innovator Training Scheme E-Learning Resource

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) marked the launch of its Innovator Training Scheme e-Learning resource during a recent ‘Essentials for Innovation’ showcase event.

Held at The University of Manchester’s (UoM) Core Technology Facility at the end of January 2024, the Innovation and Partnerships Team from NIHR Manchester BRC presented the evolution of its initial webinar pilot into an engaging training platform for more than 50 attendees from a diverse range of clinical and academic roles from 15 organisations.

The Innovation and Partnerships Team also provided an overview of the support available from within the Greater Manchester research community, aimed at developing effective collaborations and innovations with industry partners.

Essentials for Innovation speakers

Essentials for Innovation speakers from left to right: Chris Hepworth, Duncan Henderson, Richard Unwin, Katherine Boylan, Alessandro Faroni, Rick Body and Colette Inkson

Here are some highlights from the Essentials for Innovation event and key features of Manchester BRC’s newly launched Innovator Training Scheme e-learning materials:

Supportive Infrastructure Showcase

Dr Colette Inkson, Innovation and Partnerships Manager at NIHR Manchester BRC, hosted a sequence of talks showcasing the support that is available to researchers to enable innovative collaborations with industry partners. Highlights of how they can help you and key contacts are featured below:

Translation Manchester brings together a network of support, facilities and expertise to make the pathway to translation quicker and easier. They do this by establishing research connections, identifying and overcoming translational research hurdles, developing research pipelines, providing translational funding support and facilitating translational research skills training.

Dr Alessandro Faroni


“It’s important that your research or potential new innovation addresses an unmet clinical need, and the people who know what this need is, are usually clinicians who deliver the care. If you’re a scientist or researcher working on a project, reach out to a clinician in your field and discuss how you can address this need with your idea. If you’re a clinician treating patients and have spotted an unmet need, speak to a scientist or researcher on how you might be able to address and implement this together”.

Dr Alessandro Faroni, Translational Research Manager

Contact: translation@mancheste

The Business Engagement Team help to bridge the gap between academia and industry by facilitating interactions that lead to mutual benefit. They do this by providing advice on suitable collaborative mechanisms, assisting with partnership negotiations and matching industry priorities with suitable academic expertise.


“Working with industry can help diversify your research income, lead to new research ideas and projects, whilst building your career networks and research impact beyond publications. The key is to explore different engagement mechanisms with increasing levels of commitment from both sides, build relationships and trust by understanding ways of working and identifying mutual needs for a truly collaborative engagement.”

Chris Hepworth, Business Engagement Manager


Chris Hepworth

The Innovation Factory help researchers navigate the commercialisation journey that is right for them. They do this by identifying the right commercialisation pathway for bespoke projects and offering support on vital steps such as funding, project planning, market research, Intellectual Property (IP) evaluation and contracting.

Dr Duncan Henderson


“The road to commercialisation may be tricky to navigate but can be an exciting and rewarding journey. We are here to help. We can help you to commercialise your research through either creation of a spin-out company or licensing intellectual property to an existing company. It is never too early to contact us and we are on hand to offer advice and support, so please do get in touch!”

Dr Duncan Henderson, Head of Innovation Discovery


The Innovation Team at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust offer a range of support to NHS staff and collaborators such as advice on commercialisation and IP, routes for innovation adoption in the NHS and co-development of grant applications with strategic partners. They also host a number of facilitative infrastructures such as the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre Innovation and Partnerships Team, the Clinical Data Science Unit (CDSU), the Hepatitis Operational Delivery Network and the NIHR Manchester HealthTech Research Centre (HRC).


“Partnership working between the NHS, the University and commercial companies is vital to delivering benefit for our patients and communities through getting innovation into practice and economic growth. If you’re an NHS clinician or researcher, working with commercial partners offers the opportunity to co-develop and evaluate new innovations with the potential to improve patient care. For companies, working with the NHS to test your technology can give you access to patients, clinical data, expertise, and samples to help progress along the various stages of development. Mutual benefit is key for all partnerships.”

Dr Katherine Boylan, Director of Innovation


Dr Katherine Boylan

Case Study: The Journey of Complement Therapeutics from Academia to Spin Out

Dr Richard Unwin


Dr Richard Unwin, Senior Lecturer in Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, and Founder of Complement Therapeutics Inc. rounded up how the above support can be put into practice by sharing the inspiring story of how he took Complement Therapeutics from academic concept to fully fledged Spin out.

The slides from Richard’s talk along with our other speakers can be found here.

Recordings of these talks will also be available as Unit 1 as part of the Innovator Training Scheme

The Innovator Training Scheme: Key Features

Innovator Training logo



The NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre together with colleagues at Translation Manchester have now evolved The Innovator Training Scheme into an interactive online training portal. The course focuses on non-traditional skills and topics such as developing an entrepreneurial mindset, collaborating with industry and how to pitch to commercial audiences. The portal offers bitesize videos and is enriched by interactive quizzes, reflective exercises and links to additional resources.

Here’s 4 great reasons to sign up to The Innovator Training Scheme today:

1. It's free

2. Everyone can access it

3. Pick and choose the bits you want to learn about

4. It will constantly evolve with your needs

Innovation and Partnerships

If you have any feedback or questions about the items featured in this blog, please contact the NIHR Manchester BRC Innovation and Partnerships Team: