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Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists at Mayo University Hospital - HIHI Spark Ignite National Winner 2020

Monday, 20th July, 2020. Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI), the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), and National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) concluded their Spark Ignite Innovation competition with a national final on Wednesday 15th July. The Spark Ignite Programme 2020, which was launched in February this year, is the only staff facing innovation competition open to all 115,000+ HSE staff across all disciplines and departments. The overarching goal is to help staff who have identified solutions to problems, challenges or unmet needs by validating that need and determine if a market exists for their proposed solution, product, or service. It provides a unique opportunity for HSE staff, to engage with the commercial and industrial experience of the HIHI team and ignite the in-depth knowledge and confidence of HSE staff to promote their ideas.

Over 150 applications with innovative ideas in healthcare were received from HSE staff nationwide.  Following a two-stage review by experienced reviewers, 36 finalists were chosen to go forward to a bespoke innovation workshop, supported by the Local Enterprise Office Galway.

The 36 finalists received mentorship from the HIHI national team to develop their innovative ideas and solutions, and to prepare them for the regional pitching competitions. The Regional pitching finals were conducted electronically in association 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 of experts from industry, venture investment, Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, public and private healthcare, and academia.

Each regional final awarded five prizes: Best Single Applicant Overall, Best Team Applicant Overall, both winning €3,000, and then three €1,000 prizes for categories of Novelty, Fastest to Market, and One to Watch. The best single applicant overall and best team applicant overall from each region qualified for the National Final this week.

The winner of the national final received a further €3,000 prize for their innovation. All category winners will receive continued mentorship and guidance from HIHI to develop their ideas further and avail of the bespoke HIHI Innovation pathway (

The innovative projects submitted to the 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 their core.

HIHI Spark Ignite National Winner 2020

Marie Ronan and Rose Cafferkey, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists, Mayo University Hospital

IDEA: Our innovation is a smart tool capable of the real time audit, monitoring and surveillance of antibiotics and will have a significant impact in the fight against antimicrobial resistance and benefit not only patients in Mayo University Hospital but patients nationally and internationally.

Speaking on winning: “Rose and I are delighted and proud to win this prestigious award for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team and Pharmacy Department in Mayo University Hospital. Being shortlisted for the HIHI Spark Ignite Award was an honour especially with the high calibre of entrants.

The training workshops provided by Health Innovation Hub Ireland were an excellent learning experience and will benefit us long into our careers. We would strongly encourage anyone with an innovative idea to enter this competition. Antimicrobial resistance affects us all and has the potential to have a devastating impact on all our lives.”

This year saw the best individual and best team regional finalists pitch for additional funding and the title of HIHI Spark Ignite National Winner 2020.

Our national finalists were:

Cork regional final ‘Best Individual Pitch’
Norma Caples, CNS/RNP Heart Failure, University Hospital Waterford
IDEA: “My innovation is an app that will alert heart failure patients when there is a significant increase in their weight that may indicate a deterioration in their heart failure”.
Cork regional final ‘Best Team Pitch’
Dr Lyndsey Paul, Dermatology Consultant; Dr Catriona Gallagher, Dermatology Specialist Registrar; Anita Flynn Dermatology Staff Nurse, University Hospital Waterford,
IDEA: “Our innovation aims to improve the safety profile of immunosuppressive drugs by patient education, personalised reminders for screening and vaccinations, and a record of all test results in one streamlined app or written record.”
Dublin regional final ‘Best Individual Pitch’
Siobhán Ryan 3rd Year Medical Student, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
IDEA: “My innovation is a pressure detection device designed for use on an operating theatre table to improve the current standards for intraoperative pressure care.”
Dublin regional final ‘Best Team Pitch’
Alison Harper, Chief Medical Scientist Tallaght University Hospital; Helena Begley, Senior Medical Scientist Naas General Hospital; and Fergus Guilfoyle, Chief Medical Scientist Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital
IDEA: “Our innovation is a weekly blood exchange programme which uses blood stocks more efficiently.”
Galway regional final ‘Best Individual Pitch’
Helen Ryan, Senior Medical Scientist Saolta University Healthcare
IDEA: “My innovation is a novel non-invasive diagnostic tool for early detection of leaking amniotic fluid following non-overt rupture of amniotic membranes in expectant mothers.”
Galway regional final ‘Best Individual Pitch’
Marie Ronan and Rose Cafferkey, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists Mayo University Hospital,
IDEA: Our innovation is a smart tool capable of the real time audit, monitoring and surveillance of antibiotics will have a significant impact in the fight against antimicrobial resistance and will benefit not only patience in Mayo University Hospital but patients nationally and internationally

Mr. Paul Reid Chief Executive Officer HSE congratulated the winners
"The HIHI Spark Ignite, Innovation Competition this year has been a great success in the face of difficult circumstances. This event is the result of hard work and effort from the HSE’s Spark Innovation Programme, the Office of the Nursing & Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD) and, of course, the HIHI.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate all involved in the 150 applications which came from a diverse group of HSE workers.   It is particularly encouraging to see the number of participants that continued to develop their ideas during a pandemic and is another testament to the dedication shown by all staff within the HSE.
To those who went on to compete in the regional and national finals you should be proud of your achievements and I look forward to seeing the realisation of your ideas in the health services. A special congratulations, of course goes to Marie Ronan and Rose Cafferkey who were deservedly the overall winners of the National Spark Ignite Final 2020. Their idea, which looks to tackle antimicrobial resistance is of importance both nationally and internationally and I wish them well in bringing it to fruition. The competition is an opportunity for all HSE staff to develop ideas and improve the quality of the HSE from within and I would urge all HSE workers to consider participating in innovation programmes such as Spark Ignite in the future."

Dr. Colman Casey, National Director Health Innovation Hub Ireland, said “HIHI is delighted to be a partner with NDTP and ONMSD in the 2020 Spark Ignite Programme. The programme was conducted remotely for 2020 and consisted of regional finals, culminating in a national final. The number and quality of innovative ideas emanating from within the healthcare community is very impressive in these very challenging times.”
Dr. Ciara Carroll, National Fellow for Innovation and Change said.“Spark Ignite is a unique interdisciplinary innovation competition where entrepreneurial HSE staff can develop their ideas through a series of workshops with mentorship from the Health Innovation Hub Ireland team. 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.”
Dr. Steven Griffin, Innovation from Healthcare Lead, HIHI, commented that “The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a phenomenal and unprecedented response across the entire healthcare sector for which we as a community at large are grateful. The HIHI appreciate the commitment to this programme shown by all contestants involved. The quality of their outputs is a credit to HSE staff. The HIHI is a free resource for all HSE staff and have an open door policy for engagement – so if you have an innovative idea product or solution visit, email, or contact anyone on the team."

Photo Caption: 
L:R Marie Ronan and Rose Cafferkey, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacists, Mayo University Hospital (photo taken in 2019)

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
Mayo University Hospital (MUH)