Innovate at Imperial

The inaugural round is now closed. The Charity aims to launch another round later in 2020.

Imperial Health Charity is pleased to launch a new grants scheme, Innovate at Imperial, that aims to provide opportunities for Trust staff to explore novel and innovative ways of improving health and
social care, hospital processes, patient safety and/or patient care.

As the dedicated charity for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, we recognise that the Trust, with its international reputation for innovation, is well placed to push the boundaries of conventional healthcare and introduce major step changes that will make a real difference to the quality of patients’ lives. The charity also recognises that innovation takes many different forms.

This new programme reflects the Trust’s ambitions to deliver innovative healthcare and links in with the principal aims of the charity’s three-year strategy (2019-22):

  • to improve patient experience and help to deliver true patient-centred care
  • to develop the careers and enhance the wellbeing of Trust staff
  • to enable innovation in health and care within the Trust and the wider health system.

We look forward to receiving applications from Trust staff of all levels and from any clinical or non-clinical setting. We can provide reasonable support to the development of proposals.

Please note, this is a separate scheme to the charity’s Research Fellowships programme. Please consult relevant guidance notes on the programme. (For Innovate at Imperial allowable and not allowable costs, please see below).

What do we mean by innovation?

Innovation is about doing things differently or doing new things to make a positive change. This includes testing or transferring ideas from one setting to another to improve health and social care delivery. It could be “a novel drug, device, app, model of care, set of behaviours or way of working that is directed at improving outcomes, efficiency or experience. These innovations can range from incremental to radical”.

The innovation must demonstrate the potential impact on service that will improve the safety and quality of patient care but requires seed funding to explore the feasibility of these proposed changes. Please carefully read all the information below on Innovate at Imperial.



The proposal must: 

  • relate to one or more of Imperial Health Charity’s strategic objectives
  • develop and test innovative approaches to improve health and social care (this includes hospital processes, patient safety, or patient care)
  • address a problem that is concise, defined and measurable
  • describe fully the evidence underpinning the problem
  • identify and describe the most appropriate methodology for delivery and include a robust evaluation plan (for an example of methodology, see the Trust’s QI resources)
  • accelerate progress (rather than further fund established work), and be delivered within a realistic budget and timescale, including a set-up phase and evaluation phase


  • The scheme is best suited to applications received from a team rather than an individual
  • The charity is keen to accept proposals that are outwardlooking and inter-sectoral, (i.e. working across Trust departments and/or with local partners in north west London); partners can include clinical commissioning groups, other primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare providers, and community providers.


  • Applications can only be submitted by permanent Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust staff
  • Applicants must obtain approval from their line manager and divisional director or divisional director of operations; this is to ensure that the work and its potential impact are well understood within the clinical service in which it is based.
What examples of innovation exist within the Trust?

Integrated Family Delivered Neonatal Care Project (IFDC)
A pioneering model of integrated care to improve parent and infant health outcomes run across the two neonatal units at the Trust (QCCH and SMH).

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)
Seeks to make a direct impact on improving patient care, patient experience and rehabilitation outcomes through the use of music as a ward-based activity that are linked to the clinical therapeutic outcomes.

The Intergenerational Project
Seeks to embed the use of intergenerational activities into services for both older people and children at the Trust. Working with local schools and partners, the project collates and analyses data to measure the positive outcomes including increased mental capability, reduced depression, reduced isolation and increased sense of wellbeing.

Development and evaluation of the Early Years Dashboard
Seeks to develop and evaluate a ‘dashboard’ for the child’s first 1,000 days, which is a critical period for child development. Led by Connecting Care for Children (CC4C) and supported by Whole Systems Integrated Care (WSIC), the project’s key players include a multidisciplinary team (MDT) and outreach clinics, and general practitioners (GPs), as well as volunteers at GP practices (‘Practice Champions’) to identify local child health priorities and co-design strategies to address them.

Digital innovation
A multidisciplinary team from ICHT developed an algorithm so that data from the Friends and Family Test could be analysed and acted upon much more quickly. This allows improvements to be identified and enables front line staff to interact with the data and improve patient care through technology.

Virtual fracture clinic
This was a research-driving-improvement project to develop timecritical treatment for hand and wrist fractures.

Other examples of innovation projects outside the Trust can be found in the useful report, Against the Odds: Successfully scaling innovation in the NHS (published by the Innovation Unit and The
Health Foundation).

How much can I apply for?

We encourage applications of between £1,000 and £85,000 per project. Innovate at Imperial projects do not necessarily have to be expensive. We will look carefully at your project budget to determine value for money. You must provide full justification for each cost.

Allowed and not allowed costs

Projects/items we can support:

  • the Innovate at Imperial scheme will consider reasonable backfill cost of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust staff involved in delivering the project. If a new post is being created to deliver the project, applicants must strongly demonstrate the need for the post and include a job description. The salary cost is not to pay for a research fellow. Please see the charity's separate Research Fellowships programme that supports the academic research careers of Trust staff to include the basic salary and on-costs of fellows for up to 24 months.
  • focus group costs including room hire and refreshments, provided they are not excessive
  • reasonable travel within London for the project team to attend meetings with north west London partners
  • reasonable volunteer expenses/consumable costs for PPI studies

Projects/items we cannot support:

  • any item or project that should receive core funding from departmental budgets
  • any item or project that could be funded by a Fund Adviser Special Purpose Fund
  • any item or project that has already been purchased/delivered (no retrospective funding)
  • replacement of equipment that is new for old on a like-for-like basis
  • general staff hospitality (e.g. socials, staff rewards, meeting or travel expenses)
  • payments to individuals
  • conference attendance and training course fees
  • salaries that are not directly associated with the delivery of the project
  • top-up costs of fellowships or for any post-graduate studies.

This list is not exhaustive. If in doubt, please contact the grants team by email:

Grant award length

The grant is awarded for a maximum period of 18 months, including set-up phase and evaluation phase.

How can I apply?

Applications must be submitted via our online grants management system, Flexigrant. We do not accept hard-copy applications. Please click here to access the online application form.

Innovate at Imperial Guidance Notes and Sample Application
  • Click here to download the guidance notes
  • Click here to download the sample application form
Application timeframe
  • There is one round of applications this financial year 2019/20
  • Applications will open on Monday 18 November 2019
  • Applications must be submitted by 12pm (noon) on Friday 21 February 2020
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application in April 2020.

We hope to launch further funding rounds in the next financial year.

Reporting requirements

An end of grant report is required one month after the grant end date. For some projects, the charity may require a progress report as well.

Financial information

If you are awarded a grant, you must not incur any costs until after you have received a grant award letter. The charity will not pay for any costs incurred retrospectively. The charity will not pay individuals or suppliers directly. Payments are made quarterly in arrears.

Further information

For any other enquiries or additional support, please contact Imperial Health Charity’s grants team:
T: 020 3857 9844