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Frontline healthcare workers often have great ideas about how to make improvements in the area they work in. Yet sometimes they lack the support to get their ideas off the ground. It could be funding, technical skills or knowledge about IP and licensing,

To address this issue, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity set up the Bright Ideas Fund in 2009. The fund is designed to support and invest in the innovative ideas of staff working in Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London.

It supports frontline practitioners to take new ideas from concept to the prototyping stage, by providing funding and advice on intellectual property and helping innovators to find commercial backing.

A notable success story for the fund is Desperate Debra, a teaching tool for practising delivery techniques for emergency caesareans, developed in 2011 with support from the fund.

The consultant obstetrician who came up with the idea was a keen tinkerer and initially started working on the idea in his shed. Yet he lacked certain knowledge about IP and sales and also networks.

Through the scheme, he was able to collaborate with a team including a consultant midwife and a professor of obstetrics working at the hospital. He also received intellectual property and legal advice from a specialist at GSTT.

Desperate Debra has been successfully commercialised and is now used as a standard practice training tool.

Image credit: Graham Tydeman