How England’s Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are transforming lives through healthcare innovation.  ►

About the AHSN Network

The AHSN Network is the collective voice of the 15 local Academic Health Science Networks. AHSNs operate simultaneously as a single AHSN Network and as fifteen locally embedded and integrated organisations with strong partnerships at place and Integrated Care System level. Their strength comes from the ability to work at local, regional and national levels, and the interplay between them.

The AHSN Network exists to transform the way the NHS identifies, adopts and spreads innovation and is driven by three imperatives: improving health; improving productivity; and generating economic growth.

This is achieved by accelerating access to innovation, transforming patient experience and health outcomes, driving down the cost of care, supporting safer systems of care, and enabling economic growth through AHSNs’ unique support for the life sciences sector.

A small, central AHSN Network team provides co-ordination, programme design and oversight, governance, communications and engagement at a national level; and speaks on behalf of all AHSNs with national commissioners and stakeholders. An AHSN Network Chair and Vice Chair are elected from among the 15 AHSN chief officers every two years.


NHS England commission

The NHS England Innovation, Research and Life Sciences commission of the AHSN Network sets out nationally mandated deliverables:

  • National Innovation Programmes
  • Rapid Uptake Products 
  • Support for the adoption and spread of MedTech Funding Mandate products
  • National Innovation Pipeline
  • NHS Innovation Accelerator
  • Support for the NHS Innovation Service


In addition to these mandated deliverables, the AHSNs have received supplementary commissions to deliver other coordinated programmes:

  • National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes
  • Innovation in Health Inequalities Programme
  • NHS Insights Prioritisation Programme 
  • Inclisiran
  • Blood Pressure Optimisation
  • Needs Assessment Service (part of the NHS Innovation Service)


AHSNs are integral to the continued success of core NHS innovator programmes such as the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), the NHS Innovation Accelerator and the Clinical Entrepreneurs programme.


Office for Life Sciences commission

The unique role of the AHSNs means they bridge the gap between the NHS and industry, bringing the very best innovative solutions to the NHS and helping to create economic growth by harnessing the NHS investment.

The AHSN Network commission from the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS) enables AHSNs to do this in a structured and methodical way, answering the needs of the health and care system and of innovators with ideas that match system challenges.

Deliverables are set out in the OLS Local Implementation Plans, which are agreed with each AHSN and are focussed upon four themes:

  • Identifying need and communicating regional priorities
  • Signposting and supporting Innovators
  • Adoption and spread of innovations across the system
  • Validation in Real World Settings


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