Building on Excellence

This story was originally published in BWH Clinical and Research News.

Brigham Innovation Hub Will Move Breakthrough Concepts and Inventions Forward

These days, mockup sketches and bright color swatches occupy most of the space on the desk of Brigham Innovation Hub (iHub) Executive Director Lesley Solomon, MBA. In just a few months, Solomon and her team will be moving across Fenwood Road and into a new space in our new building where they will continue to push the boundaries of innovation.

“We want our new space to be a place where anyone can stop by to talk with us about their ideas or ask for help in translating their research into innovations,” said Solomon. “The new building is a cutting-edge and innovative place, and iHub’s goal in this new space is to increase awareness about how we can work with people to move their ideas forward.”

The iHub has been a resource center for first-time and experienced innovators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) since 2013. The center helps turn breakthrough concepts, inventions, and research by BWH clinicians, scientists, and employees into products and services to benefit and improve care delivery. For the past few years, iHub has taken in hundreds of ideas from BWHers. Currently iHub is operating out of a temporary space in the Miller Atrium.

Brian Mullen, manager of Innovation Strategy at iHub, hopes scientists and clinicians will think of the space as an artist would think of an art studio.

“Innovation is a mix of art and science. It is important to have a spot for creation and freedom to exercise the artful and playful sides of innovation to enhance the practical side of transformative ideas,” Mullen said. “The iHub space will give people the go-to spot to get out of the lab or office and away from day-to-day activities, thinking, and constraints.”

How will iHub push innovation forward in the new space? BWH Clinical & Research News spoke to team members to find out more – here are their top ideas for utilizing the new space:

  1. Hands-on Innovation: A large whiteboard will be a focal point in the new iHub space. Anyone who wants to think through new ideas or work through a problem can get creative and use the whiteboard to map ideas out. The iHub team’s slogan “What are you innovating today?” is a theme that will resonate in the new space.
  2. Key Location: Innovation Strategy Manager Beverly Hardy said the location of the center on the third floor of the BTM allows iHub team members to engage BWH staff without requiring them to go too far from their labs, clinics and offices, making it as easy as possible for people to attend iHub meetings and events. “Innovation never happens in a vacuum,” she said. “Cross-disciplinary teams who may not otherwise run into each other in their own spaces have a chance to share perspectives and learn serendipitously from each other at our events.”
  3. Office Hours: Held by members of iHub weekdays from 11 am–1 pm, this is an opportunity for anyone in the BWH community (and even outside of it) to set up a time to share an idea, brainstorm a problem or explore a new technology with the team. Solomon said the team finds that sometimes it takes an open conversation with someone outside of a specialty or area of expertise to take a challenge and turn it into a new idea. The iHub team hopes that at some point, anyone with an idea or problem to be innovated around will take advantage of the office hours.
  4. Internal and External Meetings: Teams working on innovation projects will be able to meet with both internal colleagues and external collaborators in the new iHub space.
  5. Innovation Hours will be held once a month in the evenings on different themes, such as perfecting your pitch; the business of health care; nursing and innovation; machine learning; and behavioral health. Oftentimes, iHub will bring in an outside speaker who can help stimulate new ideas and problem solving. Solomon said they are always looking for suggestions for speakers and encourages BWHers to share them with the iHub team.
  6. Innovation Series: Held three to four times a year, the innovation series provides a forum to brainstorm and identify challenges, pain points, or programs to help improve patient care, develop solutions, and propel ideas toward commercialization with help from iHub resources. Several departments and programs have already participated in the series, and the iHub team plans to build on the program’s success once it has moved into the BTM.
  7. Funding Pitch Sessions: At the end of an innovation series, teams will pitch their innovative solutions to a panel of judges for funding from the department, iHub, and sometimes an outside source. The new space will be the ideal size for a confidential funding pitch.

David Kroll, MD, an associate psychiatrist in the BWH Department of Psychiatry, is working with Solomon and her team on a couple of projects that he has developed, including the creation of a mobile phone app that will help to provide patients with the support they may need between a visit to the emergency department and their next outpatient appointment. The goal is to reduce repeat visits to the emergency department. Also moving into the BTM, Kroll is excited that he’ll be only one floor away from iHub.

“iHub really pushed me to verbalize and actualize my ideas,” he said. “I now have a team from iHub that is working with me on my mobile phone app project. It will be nice to have a permanent space available where people can go to find inspiration and let their creative juices flow.”