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The right mind-set, a good toolkit, a culture of collaboration and a supportive environment. Our regular Inspiring Innovators feature will explore the ingredients for successful innovation across countries and sectors to see what we can learn in health.

It’s no surprise innovation can be one of the toughest challenges in any organisation. Each innovation or idea is unique with no set template, rule book, process or measure of success. Each act of innovation is driven by the individual—or collective—imagination of inspired individuals. Encouraging that spirit of innovation, creativity and challenge of the status quo, while still maintaining everyday operations is the biggest hurdle in creating a truly innovative organisation, but one that SHIL is committed to supporting within NHS Scotland.  

Luckily we have an excellent foundation to flourish, with the altruistic professional motivations of frontline NHS Scotland staff highlighted in Nuffield Trust 2017 Report - Learning from Scotland’s NHS. Over the last 70 years our health service has had to innovate with significant advances in medical devices and treatments.

The challenge today is keeping up with the rapid advances - wearable tech, ehealth, mhealth, and telehealth are all revolutionising healthcare and blurring the boundaries between health, science, technology and manufacturing. But the same is true of many industries and to respond to disruptive change, finding new ideas from outside of healthcare and looking to other industries for inspiration provides exciting insight.

So in this first Inspiring Innovators feature, we take a first view of some key industries…


The energy sector is leading when it comes to making big improvements in process, systems and safety, but attention to fostering innovation in areas like business models, product and customer experience and the supply chain are high on the agenda. A report from pwc - Gateway to growth: innovation in the oil and gas industry – explores investment in R&D, technological advances, innovation operating models and the importance of people and collaboration with partners across the right industries. Featuring the Shell Game Changer programme - set up to work with start-ups and businesses on unproven early-stage ideas, the parallels with SHIL are clear and underline our view that disruptive ideas can exist anywhere.


Thanks to innovative minds across the globe, airline travel has come a long way— digital transformation has afforded the industry the opportunity to make huge efficiency savings and drive advances for tech-savvy consumers to expedite their journeys while helping to stay organised, entertained and informed. Whilst apps, online check in and connecting with passengers before, during and after flights is now industry standard, Outside Online have rounded up some of the future innovations that may change the way we fly – from solar powered airplanes and windowless jets to space solutions and digital entertainment. The key message here again is collaboration – from internationally renowned design firms to technologists and NASA scientists all have a hand in turning big ideas into future plans.  


In less than a century, improvements and innovations in vehicle safety, reliability, and exhaust emissions have revolutionised the motoring industry. But the industry looks set to be disrupted by new driverless technology, and the world of tech and cars are merging.This model of harnessing expertise across industries to arrive at shared solutions is growing and within SHIL we are embracing these collaborative approaches to harness digital and technology expertise not traditionally found within the health service.

Food and drink

As one of Scotland’s best performing and most renowned sectors, keeping apace of changes in production, supply chains and consumer behaviour, has driven delivery of the new Ambition 2030 strategy to unlock the full potential of the industry with a focus on innovation. The sector recognises the importance of collaboration in unlocking innovation and driving further growth and has established a Make Innovation Happen service and a Collaboration Innovation Fund.


Sport, science, health and technology are intrinsically linked with lots of innovations helping to push performance whilst also making sport and physical activity easier and more enjoyable for people in general. From apps and sensors to better understanding the physiology and composition of their bodies, and gaining insight into performance, athletes are tapping into all sorts of innovations with the cross over in health offering massive opportunities. 

So whether in health, aviation, motoring or sport - innovation is all around us. Staying aware, seeking out ideas and inspiration and challenging the status quo is true of any sector.

‘Decisions on innovation now could have a big impact on results over the long-term’

Articles of Interest:

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