Since starting at HDR UK in January this year, I’ve found that the momentum of the Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) Programme has never lulled, and I’m continually impressed with what we’re achieving. It’s important to take the time occasionally to step back and take stock of the sheer quantity that the small and agile team here is delivering. HDR UK aims to be disruptive and deliver at pace to help transform health data science in the UK, and the DIH Programme is a great example of this – even just in the last few weeks, a huge amount has been happening.

In July we launched a call for applicants to participate in our Sandbox. We are looking for submissions outlining exciting and diverse use cases, which will help to inform and develop the Digital Innovation Hub Programme. The successful Sandbox participants will work alongside us to help explore how the DIH programme will work in different contexts, and will help to give an insight into the different needs across the health data science and innovation community. We have been delighted with the incredible interest the news about the Sandbox has garnered, and we are looking forward to seeing the range of applications the call generates. The deadline to apply to participate is 5pm on Wednesday 7 August.

Earlier in July, we also launched the procurement process for Phase 1 of the Health Data Research UK Innovation Gateway. The Gateway will provide the infrastructure through which researchers and innovators are able to search for and identify relevant datasets. Phase 1 will produce the initial ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP), comprised of the Gateway Portal MVP – the front-end user experience – and the Metadata Catalogue – the back-end underlying functionality to support the portal.

Applications for the Portal MVP and the Metadata Catalogue are currently being assessed. Development of the MVP will start in earnest by early Autumn, and the goal for the end of 2019 is to have the Gateway MVP and Metadata Catalogue up and running for users, providing discovery and some access functionality for data from the Alliance and hubs. Maintaining the momentum as usual, from early Autumn we also intend to already be beginning the process of procurement for Phase 2 of the full Gateway.

And finally, the call for the Digital Innovation Hubs closed on 2 July. We were absolutely delighted with the number and quality of bids received. Over 160 organisations were represented in one or more of the 21 bids that were reviewed by the assessment panel on 16 July. The panel, chaired by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, interviewed 9 shortlisted bids on 1-2 August, and we expect to announce successful hubs on 12 September.

One of the great things about working at HDR UK is that from week to week there is invariably always something exciting happening. It’s amazing that all of this has been happening over just a few weeks. Since starting here, I’ve often found that people are surprised at the scale of what we have committed ourselves to deliver, as well as the pace at which we are actually delivering it. It’s great to take a moment to take pride the ongoing work we’re delivering, as well as looking forward the major milestones coming up in the near future!