Establishing the Hub Programme in the first six months

Establishing the Hub Programme in the first six months

Jun 20, 2024 Emily Barker News

Since launching in December 2023, the team has been establishing the Hub foundations, programme, and ways of working together across the multiple sectors involved. Here's a snapshot of our journey so far.

Launch Event 

Kicking Off NortHFutures  

In December 2023, representatives from over 50 organisations met for our Partners’ launch. Co-Directors Abigail Durrant and Naeem Soomro outlined our vision and mission, and esteemed speakers from the Northern Health Sciences Alliance, HI-NENC, VONNE, Newcastle Health Innovation Partners, and EPSRC set out insight and inspiration from their professional perspectives.  

Find out more about our activities here.

Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) Meeting    

In May we convened our first SAB meeting, involving key regional health and social care service providers and health-tech experts. Chaired by Tom Rodden from the University of Nottingham, the board includes representatives from multiple sectors within our region plus experts doing relevant work across the UK.

See the full list of SAB members on our People page.

Digital Health Skills Survey 

We’ve launched a survey across the NortHFutures partner network to map the healthcare skills ecosystem in the NENC region. We’re collecting information about skills and training ‘needs’ and ‘offers’ within our hub consortium, and understanding digital, data and technology (including artificial intelligence) demand and supply.

We’re keen to hear from you about knowledge-sharing opportunities that support digital health initiatives. 

Your views will provide invaluable insight and evidence to shape our planning around the facilitation and resourcing of training and skills sharing activities. 

Please Complete the survey here.

Widening Participation in Research  

Inclusive Research for All  

Our ethos is centered on broadening participation and ensuring that community and organisational voices are heard.  

We’ve established the NortHFutures Research Involvement Advisory Group (RIAG), which includes representatives from Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations and individuals involved in Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE). They will advise on our activities, focusing on participatory approaches and user research.   

The NortHFutures PPIE group includes members of the public including citizens, community and advocacy group representatives from the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) region. Members are being recruited through an Open Call disseminated through the Hub networks, including by the RIAG members.


Building Our Team  

We’re excited to welcome some fantastic new team members:  

  • Antonia Dingle, HDR UK: Antonia joined in April as part of the Capacity Building Team, overseeing contributions to NortHFutures about digital and data skills and training. With a rich background in public health research and digital health innovation, she’s a valuable addition to our team.  
  • Peter Glick, Interaction Designer and Participatory Health Researcher: Peter joined us in May, bringing his expertise in Participatory Design and Action Research. Peter works on Research Involvement and Digital Inclusion, and on User Research and Design for the Secure Data Environment Development Programme
  • Oladayo Owoeye, Data Scientist: Oladayo joined us in June doing applied research on the development and implementation of robust trusted research environment architectures. He has a background in AI, Data Science, and applying machine learning and deep learning to digital healthcare. He has a background in AI, Data Science, and applying machine learning and deep learning to digital healthcare.  
  • Andrey Solano, Research Fellow in Digital Innovation/Digital Health: Andrey will conduct user-centered research and design prototyping for the Digital Brokerage Service; Andrey will also support impact monitoring for the hub programme in its pilot phase.

Over summer 2024 well also be joined by three interns from the HDR UK internship programme working across both Northumbria University and Newcastle University and an EPSRC N8 CIR intern. 

Secure Data Environment (SDE) Development  

Enhancing Data Privacy and Security  

The Secure Data Environment (SDE) development is a secure data and research analysis platform, part of the NHS Research SDE Network. The service gives approved researchers secure access to NHS data.  

NortHFutures Directors Abigail Durrant and Naeem Soomro, and colleague Paolo Missier, have been working closely with Mark Walsh, SDE Development Programme Manager at HI-NENC, and the wider NENC SDE Development Programme team to understand the potential data flows into the environment and identify case studies for real-world research about the needs of diverse stakeholders and users of the SDE. 

The aim is to deliver research evidence that can guide the inclusive design of tools and resources for supporting access to health and care data to support inclusive design by people for doing collaborative, cross-sector research.  Peter Glick and Oladayo Owoeye will focus on this work - Oladayo on the technical data architecture, and Peter on understanding the needs and interests of diverse users of this data service - to consider how tools and resources can be accessed by different people, and how they can be built to be useable and useful.  

The NortHFutures team is partnering with the SDE Development Programme team on a public engagement event in the Autumn 2024 – more information to follow soon. 

Raising Our Profile  

Showcasing Our Work  

We’ve been out and about talking about NortHFutures at various events:  

  • North East Life Sciences Conference (March 2024)  
  • Diagnostics North East Conference (April 2024)  
  • Innovation SuperNetwork Digital Cluster Showcase (May 2024)  
  • Rural Health Innovation workshop (June 2024)   
  • Hacking Child Tech conference and workshop (June 2024) 

These platforms have allowed us to gather valuable insights and highlight our activities to diverse audiences from industry, VCSE, NHS workforce, academia, and beyond.  

Partnerships Update  

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE). VONNE leads various health and wellbeing programs, supporting and representing the VCSE sector across the North East and North Cumbria.  

“We’re eager to connect with our region’s rich and diverse VCSE sector and the communities they support. Our goal is to ensure the Hub's work is grounded in and shaped by lived experiences.” - Greta Brunskill, North East & North Cumbria VCSE Health and Wellbeing Research Partnerships Coordinator, VONNE.  

We’re also delighted to collaborate with Innovation SuperNetwork (ISN), experts in fostering business innovation and growth in the North East. ISN will facilitate innovation-forward networking events, connecting diverse stakeholders and working with the NortHFutures core team to effectively position our initiatives for our target audiences.  

Looking Ahead  

One-day Research Funding Workshops 

We are holding scoping research workshops across four themes that addresses regional unmet health and care needs, health inequalities, and digital exclusion. The aim is to collaboratively define the challenge’s scope, share insights, and tap into everyone’s expertise and lived experiences.  

Teams will form, ideas will take shape, and creativity will spark.  

The workshops are themed :  

  • Developing Digital Surgical Pathways 3 or 4 September 2024   
  • Living and Ageing Well with Multiple Long-term Conditions - 12 or 13 September  
  • Promoting Health and Nutrition for Children and Young People - 17 or 18 September  
  • Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing - 2 or 3 October  

We’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue our mission to drive health and social innovation in the North East and North Cumbria.