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HSE Spark Innovation Programme


Introduction to the Spark Innovation Programme

The ONMSD commenced a collaboration with the Spark Programme in 2019.

The Spark Innovation Programme seeks to support, promote and recognise innovation amongst healthcare staff within the HSE. The programme recognises the unique insights and perspectives of all frontline healthcare workers. The Spark team believe that the opportunity to develop one’s ideas is central to staff engagement, often inspiring for staff, encouraging recruitment, and supporting retention. We also believe that it is not solely about successful ideas but also about the potential shared learning for the system.

The Spark Programme urges all Nurses and Midwives, NCHDs, Health and Social Care Professionals with a problem solving mind, a desire to learn about design and innovation and more than anything are excited about seeing their ideas come to fruition to get involved as we want to help navigate your problem solving journey.

The objectives of the Spark Innovation Programme are to:

  • Encourage and support frontline innovation and quality improvement across all healthcare disciplines
  • Empower and engage frontline staff
  • Provide design and innovation workshops and promote the role of user centred design in the health system
  • Create a supportive ecosystem for health innovators
  • Promote early engagement with emerging technology

The Spark Innovation Programme is supported by:

  • Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD)
  • National Doctors Training & Planning (NDTP)
  • National Health and Social Care Professions Office (HSCP)

ONMSD Nursing and Midwifery National Fellowship in Innovation

The Nursing and Midwifery National Fellowship in Innovation gives a clinical nurse or midwife the opportunity to develop their innovation and leadership skills and shape the Spark Programme.

The 2022 to 2023 Nursing and Midwifery Fellow

Amy Carroll is the current Nursing/ Midwifery Innovation Fellow. She started in the role in April 2022.

Amy is a midwife/ Clinical Placement Coordinator based in Kilkenny. One of her core goals is to ensure that the reality and challenges specific to nursing and midwifery are kept at the forefront when planning Spark initiatives.

Find out more about Amy and her role

Amy is actively promoting participation and the contribution of nursing and midwifery in all the Spark initiatives. She is leading the Spring Spark Seed initiative as well as contributing to all the team’s work in all the Spark endeavours. She is happy to meet with individuals in person and virtually to discuss any nursing and midwifery innovation queries.

Spark Ignite

Spark Ignite is an opportunity for all healthcare staff to put forward their ideas for innovative products or services. The goal of the Spark Ignite Competition is to assist staff to develop solutions to the challenges faced by healthcare providers and patients.

Successful applicants benefit from a bespoke healthcare-focused innovation workshop delivered by experts, to hone their idea and proceed to pitch for funding. The initiative will culminate with an opportunity to pitch for funding at the Galway, Cork or Dublin Regional Final. A National Final will take place afterwards between the regional winners. Prizes will include funding towards the implementation of your project.

Spark Ignite 2022

The National final of Spark Ignite was held at the Spark Summit on 16 June 2022.

The national winning project was developed by Bernadette Higgins, Assistant Director of Nursing and Anne Murray, Health Protection Nurse, Department of Public Health, Limerick.

Their project ‘Wee catch it!’ has been awarded an additional €3000. Their project is to develop a device to ensure clean MSU samples, reduce misdiagnosis of UTI and subsequent exposure to antimicrobials. We can’t wait to see how this project progresses.

Spark Summit

Spark Summit is a unique health innovation conference for healthcare staff, industry and academics. The summit focuses on the exciting innovations that are transforming the ways that we provide care.

Spark Summit 2022

The 2022 Spark Summit was held on 16 June in the Clayton Hotel Dublin. The day was a resounding success with speakers from a wide range of innovation and design roles, including stories of patient journeys and collaborations.

There were the presentations of Bright Spark awards, awards from previous year’s Ignite competitions and the final of this year’s Spark Ignite (see above).

More information about the winners and further information on the day

Spark Community Innovation Fund

The HSE Spark Innovation Programme is delighted to introduce the Community Innovation Fund (CIF), an initiative designed to promote innovation in community teams and services.

Spark Community Innovation Fund 2022

Open for applications.

Healthcare professionals can apply for funding for novel initiatives that have the potential to improve the way care is delivered in our communities.

Those CIF offer 2 categories of funding depending on the scale of the project:

  • A. up to €20,000
  • B. up to €60,000

For more information visit the Spark Innovation Programme webpage.

Apply here

Spark Hospital Innovation Fund

The Spark Innovation Programme in collaboration with the Acute Hospitals Division and HSE digital transformation is delighted to introduce the Hospital Innovation Fund.

This initiative is designed to promote innovation in Irish Hospitals by funding senior-led hospital projects. This initiative offers funding from €20,000 up to a maximum of €60,000.

Senior healthcare professionals can apply for funding for novel initiatives that have the potential to improve the way care is delivered in our public health service.

Hospital Innovation Fund 2022

Eighteen fantastic projects have been shortlisted and so far the first 10 of these have been fully funded.

The aim is to fund all 18 through different Spark collaborations.

ONMSD are happy to note that 4 of the top 10 projects are nurse or midwife-led projects.

Spark Seed

This is an initiative where frontline staff can apply for micro-funding and other supports for innovative projects that will improve our health service. We welcome ideas from a range of innovators, all nursing and midwifery, health and Social Care Professionals and doctors are encouraged to apply.

Spark seed 2022

Applications for Spring 2022 closed on 24 May.

Three design workshops were held online. Facilitated by designers Martin Ryan and Trevor Vaugh attendees were introduced to design thinking and instructed in the art of a good pitch. The pitch sessions for these projects will take place over July and August. The Spark Seed call was open for 3 weeks and there were 104 applications, 45 of these were from nursing and midwifery staff. We’re looking forward to supporting lots of innovative Nursing and midwifery projects in 2022.

The next round of Spark Seed applications will be in Autumn 2022 (dates to be confirmed).

Design Challenges

The Design Weeks which were a great success in the past years in St James Hospital and The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, overcoming the challenges put forward by the pandemic and continued in the last year. For staff in either of these centres look out for local information to get involved.

Design Sprints 2022

In April the Spark team were guests at the presentation of a 5 week design sprint based in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital looking at the development of their new Trauma Centre. Fantastic innovative solutions were put forward and we can’t wait to see how they develop.

In September 2022 Spark are collaborating with the RCSI to facilitate a week long design sprint focussing on orthopaedics. Frontline workers will be invited to attend with designers to explore the design opportunities in this clinical space.

Design on the Frontline

The Design on the Frontline initiative emerged as a result of COVID-19, but the concept has been incubating for longer.

Over the past 4 years Spark have introduced hundreds of frontline staff to the practices, principles, tools and mindsets of human-centred design and innovation.

Design on the Frontline 2021-2022 – Spark Scholars

This year 12 design students from 6 different colleges received scholarships to develop healthcare solutions.

The selected Spark Scholars presented their work at National Showcase on May 27 2022. Two projects were chosen as the overall winners and given the opportunity to develop their projects further.

Annual report of the nursing and midwifery contribution to the Spark Innovation Programme 2020

The Office of the Nursing and Midwives Director, commenced a partnership with the Spark Programme in 2019, a bottom-up initiative seeking to support, promote and recognise innovation amongst healthcare staff.

Read about the extensive contribution of Nurses and Midwives to the Spark Innovation Programme 2020 in the Annual report of the nursing and midwifery contribution to the Spark Innovation Programme 2020 (PDF, size 3 MB, 34 pages).

More information

Read more about the Spark Innovation Programme.

The ONMSD Spark Collaboration lead is Dr Maureen Flynn.


Phone: 087 9317014

You can get more details from Amy Carroll the National Nursing/Midwifery Fellow


Phone: 087 4465530

Related topic

Spark Programme initiatives summary (PDF, size 141 KB, 2 pages)

Nursing and Midwifery National Innovation Fellowship Description 2021-22 ( PDF, size 574 KB, 11 pages)

ONMSD National Fellowship in Innovation Information Poster (PDF, size 289 KB, 1 page)