Developing a National Research and Evidence Base for the Health and Wellbeing Chapter of the Welsh Government’s 2023 Innovation Strategy for Wales.

A Case Study


  • Tom James Welsh Government / Swansea University
  • Dr Daniel Rees
  • Roderick Thomas
  • Gareth Davies
  • Lisa Rinaldi
  • Edward Miller



Innovation, Wales, innovation ecosystem, healthcare enterprises, digitalisation, innovation, entrepreneurship, innovation strategy, innovation management


This paper presents research informing the Welsh Government’s (WG) Health and Wellbeing chapter of the new Innovation Strategy for Wales (ISW).  WG recognises the need for a cross portfolio Innovation Strategy to bring greater coherence and alignment to our existing Welsh health and social care innovation ecosystem, particularly in a post EU environment. This approach aims to support greater collaboration between healthcare, industry, academia and the third sector to deliver greater impact and value (Davies et al, 2021) by developing, sharing and adopting innovative practice, leadership and skills development and supporting new technology development (WG, 2018).  As part of the development process, key stakeholders were identified as part of an innovation ‘push’ and innovation ‘pull’ nexus (Chesbrough, 2003) approach.   Organisations were categorised into domains of health and social care providers, innovation infrastructure, technology platforms, innovation centres, and partnerships across Wales’s health and life sciences ecosystem. A qualitative, action research led approach was used to derive the key themes supporting development of the ISW health chapter. Multi-sector consultations were conducted with experts from various fields, including health, social, care, research, and technology. Our analysis of qualitative data collected through an extensive consultation process led to the emergence of areas of prioritisation for the ISW. Three areas of prioritisation were identified in the analysis:

  1. Creating coherency across the innovation ecosystem, where every partner understands their role.
  2. Focusing innovation activity on NHS Wales organisational needs/priorities, generating ‘Innovation Pull’.
  3. Creating an ‘adoption ready’ pipeline of innovation externally into health and social care at scale, creating an ‘Innovation Push’ offer.

The ISW aims to create the optimal conditions for an innovation ecosystem underpinned by clear infrastructure and a robust policy framework, which has the full support from health and social care leadership, to create a culture of innovation at all levels of the health and social care system. The ISW was launched on 27th February 2023, with full political support from the Welsh Government Cabinet; a majority Labour party government supported by the Plaid Cymru party, as part of the Welsh Government’s 2021 election cooperation agreement.