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.




Industry’s Gateway to NICE

The NIHR Innovation Observatory works closely with industry partners reporting about new drugs, devices and diagnostics to NICE and the NIHR, please take a look at our flyer to find out more about our process. NICE will only consider reviewing a technology once it has first been through an initial filtering process managed by us at the NIHR Innovation Observatory. Therefore, if you are a company that wants to access the NICE technology appraisal process for a new product or a new use for a currently licensed or registered product, then please contact us. The NIHR Innovation Observatory agrees to respect any confidential or commercially sensitive information provided. Confidential information will only be shared with selected national policy-makers in accordance with our confidentiality statement.






The IMAGINE Series

This is the Innovation Observatory’s primary patient and public involvement (PPI) programme.  Grounded in evidence synthesis and horizon scanning, the series aims to understand the needs and priorities of patients and carers, to determine if they align with the current direction of research.  IMAGINE also seeks to obtain citizen insight on the health innovations in the pipeline which could effectively address key challenges and unmet needs.  We then work with key opinion leaders from health care and industry to drive toward innovative solutions to the challenges identified through our patient and public engagement.







Pipeline Analysis

Our Pipeline Analysis reports offer important and immediately relevant intelligence about the future of health technology across numerous disease spaces.  They can be used to steer development efforts, inform gaps in ongoing research, address unmet needs, and prepare healthcare systems for upcoming waves of technological innovation. To find out more about our Pipeline Analysis reports please see our flyer.






The  Innovation Observatory is an independent research centre hosted by the Newcastle University.

We benefit from being embedded within the Newcastle Helix, a partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and L&G Capital.  Newcastle Helix 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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