Winners of HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation Competition 2021!

| Posted on: 17 June, 2021

Winning health Innovations from HSE-HIHI’s Spark Ignite Innovation competition announced

Funding is awarded to healthcare innovations from HSE staff

17th June 2021. Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) and the HSE’s Spark Innovation Programme today concluded their HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite innovation competition with a national final. The HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Programme 2021, is open to all 115,000+ HSE staff across all disciplines and departments. The overarching goal is to help staff from within the health service with a solution to a problem, challenge, or unmet need in healthcare, to validate the need, and determine if a market exists for their proposed solution, product, or service. It is a unique opportunity for HSE staff, supported by the commercial and industrial experience of the HIHI team to develop and to promote their ideas.

Over 180 applications with innovative ideas in healthcare were received from HSE staff nationwide.  Following a rigorous review, 36 finalists were chosen to go forward to a bespoke HIHI innovation workshop delivered by Donncha Hughes (Start-up Hughes) and supported by the Local Enterprise Office Galway. All winners will receive continued mentorship and guidance from HIHI to develop their idea further and avail of the bespoke HIHI Innovation pathway (

The 36 finalists received mentorship from the HIHI mentor panel to bring their innovative ideas and solutions towards reality, and to prepare them for the regional pitching competitions. Regional pitching finals were associated with each of the three HIHI offices, Cork, Dublin and Galway, and concluded last week. The 12 finalists in each region pitched to a panel of experienced judges to win funding for the development or implementation of their idea. The judging panel comprised experts from industry, venture investment, Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, public and private healthcare, and academia.

Each regional final awarded five prizes: Best Individual Applicant Overall, Best Team Applicant Overall, both winning €3,000, and then three €1,000 runner-up prizes. The best individual applicant overall and best team applicant overall from each region qualified for the National Final on Wednesday the 16th of June.

The winner of the national final for the individual and team category received a further €2,000 toward their innovation.

The Spark Ignite initiative is funded by the HSE’s Spark Innovation Programme, a collaboration between the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), National Doctor Training and Planning (NDTP), the Health and Social Care Professionals Office (HSCP) and the Quality Improvement Team (QIT) to support frontline innovation and quality improvement across the HSE.  The annual HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite competition is one of the key initiatives of the HSE’s Spark Innovation Programme (

The innovative projects submitted to the HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite competition included a variety of new products and services with commercial appeal, and healthcare service or process improvements applicable to any hospital or team, home and abroad. All of which have the patient and the care teams at the heart and seek to improve healthcare for everyone.

And the winners are:

Best Individual overall winner HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation competition 2021

Aoife Collins, a Senior Physiotherapist and Coordinator of Active Back Care Program in the Physiotherapy Department, Cork South Lee PCC, HSE with “The Rapid-Access Online Active Back Care (ABC) Program”. Aoife plans to adapt and deliver her existing award-winning, evidence-based, group-rehabilitation program online via a customisable platform, provided by Salaso Health Solutions.

 On receiving the award Aoife Collins said “I am delighted to win the prestigious Spark Ignite National Award on behalf of The Physiotherapy Department in Cork South Lee Primary Care. To be short-listed in such a competitive contest has given me the confidence to believe in my innovation and drive it forward. Winning this competition has shown me that innovative healthcare is essential to continuously improve HSE service provision, and that Spark Ignite offers the support needed to all front line staff to develop their ideas from a spark to their fruition”.

Best overall Team Winner HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation competition 2021:

Dr Kevin Deasy (Respiratory Special Registrar) and Dr Marcus Kennedy (Consultant Respiratory Physician and Interventional Pulmonologist) with ”Remote Learning in Bronchoscopy using a Low-Fidelity Airway Simulator “HSE – Cork University Hospital. Dr Kevin and Dr Marcus plan to develop a low cost flat-pack bronchoscopy and pleural ultrasound kit for home assembly and remote learning. Their ultimate goal is to develop a formal, well-researched simulation program encompassing real world and distance learning through remote video platforms using this flat pack simulator.

Dr Deasy and Dr Kennedy accepted the award saying “We are delighted to be selected as a winner in this national final event and thank the expert panel. All presentations were outstanding and it is an honour to present in the same program. We would like to thank the HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Project Group, Health Innovation Hub Ireland and Dr Andrew Cameron NUI Galway/Feeltect for his expertise and mentorship. Finally we would like to thank our collaborators, Prof. Helen Whelton and Barry O’Reilly, UCC, Prof. Peter Dieckmann, CAMES Copenhagen, Prof. Roberto Casal, Boston Scientific and Boston Scientific Ireland.”

Mr Paul Reid, CEO, HSE congratulated the winners
“Our health service has encountered great challenges in recent times but throughout it all, HSE workers have demonstrated tremendous determination and navigated great obstacles via creativity and innovation. It is more important now than ever before that this approach is encouraged and championed, and I believe that the HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation Competition is the perfect opportunity to discover new and better ways of service delivery.

“It is heartening to see the increase in applications this year, which aptly demonstrates the commitment HSE workers have to growth and improvement in the face of adversity. I would firstly like to pay tribute to all involved in the 180 applications, which were submitted from a diverse range of areas within our health service, and particularly, to the 36 qualifying finalists. A hearty congratulations to Aoife Collins of the Physiotherapy Department in Cork South Lee Primary Care, HSE, and Dr Kevin Deasy and Dr Marcus Kennedy, CUH, who were the deserving winners of the National Spark Ignite Final 2021. I wish them well in the development of their projects and look forward to seeing them come to fruition.”

Dr Colm Henry, CCO, HSE: “The past year has shown that without innovative thinking in times of crisis, we will perish. Healthcare professionals throughout the country responded by necessity to the great challenges we face: it is indeed true to say: ‘múineann gá seift’. This culture of innovation has been captured by programmes such the HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation Competition. We have found that not only can we devise solutions with innovative thinking, but we can also implement them quickly in times of necessity. I would like to extend my congratulations to all involved, particularly winners Aoife Collins of the Physiotherapy Department in Cork South Lee Primary Care, HSE, and Dr Kevin Deasy and Dr Marcus Kennedy, CUH. It is with great pride we celebrate such a high calibre workforce.”

Dr Tanya Mulcahy, Interim Director, Health Innovation Hub Ireland, said “It is always a pleasure to deliver this programme to support innovation from our healthcare staff – the quality of ideas and calibre of presentations was outstanding. What was really clear this year was that through the HIHI workshops and support from the HIHI mentors, good ideas of high value and impact were developed”

Dr Alan Hopkins, National Fellow for Innovation and Change, HSE Spark Innovation said “Spark Ignite is a unique interdisciplinary initiative where innovative HSE staff can develop their ideas through a series of workshops with mentorship. The funding awarded to the top projects pitched at regional and national level will help to transform these ideas into tangible solutions that will enhance healthcare delivery within the HSE and beyond.”

In addition to this year’s prizes, special recognition was given by Bank of Ireland to two projects in the form of the Best Innovation in Healthcare Award (Individual) and the Best Innovation in Healthcare Award (Team). The recipients of the special recognition went to Claire Ahern, a Senior Radiographer at BreastCheck West, Galway with “AniMammo”. AniMammo, and Edel Siney (Occupational Therapist), Andy Byrne (Physiotherapist) and Brian O’Ceallaigh (Senior Physiotherapist) with “Upper Limb Rehab App”, HSE – University Hospital Galway, respectively.