Spark Curiosity

The Spark Innovation Pod

The launch of The 1st Spark Innovation Pop Up Pod and The Festival of Innovation took place in St James on the 9th of April. The Pop Up Innovation Pod is a collaboration between The Spark Innovation Programme and The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER). The pod was launched by Dr Christine Kiernan , The National Fellow for Innovation and Change,  Lucy Fallon-Byrne (Assistant Secretary General DPER), Dr Philip Crowley (Director National QID HSE), Lorcan Birthistle (CEO St James), Trevor O’Callaghan (CEO Dublin Midlands Hospital Group) and Jared Gormly (Business manager NDTP and Spark).

There were over 100 collaborators, staff and a delegation from The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI). OPSI is a global forum for public sector innovation. OPSI works with governments to understand and encourage new approaches to address society’s complex problems by equipping public servants with new insights, knowledge, tools and connections. The network is a space for international conversation about innovation so that our projects remain relevant to the daily reality of governments’ work in this area.

The pod has been developed to enable, foster and encourage innovation from front line healthcare staff using a multidisciplinary team approach. By creating a dedicated space and a creating a culture where innovation is encouraged, staff will feel empowered to focus on the problems facing them in doing their work and in developing solutions. Front line staff are best placed to truly understand the problems facing Irish healthcare, by empowering them to innovate they will be able to develop solutions and improve healthcare for all. Lorcan Birthistle (CEO St James) said at the launch “ Our greatest resource are our staff, Those that are closest to the problem are most likely to be able to develop solutions”  Dr Philip Crowley speaking at the launch “Innovation… we don’t have time not to do it.”.

The Pod is accompanied by a 12 week festival of innovation. The festival aims to create an awareness of innovation, how to look at problems, design thinking approaches and an understanding of all forms of process improvement and how to achieve that. The Pod will move from hospital site to hospital site on a 12 weekly basis. The Pod will create an initial focus on innovation at a local level and it is predicted that when the Pod leaves staff will appreciate the benefits and feel empowered to develop a community of innovators within their organisation so that innovation becomes business as usual.

Contributors to the innovation festival will host drop in clinics, workshops or lunch time talks on their chosen area within the innovation in healthcare space. Participation will be sought from all stakeholders in health such as local units, audit and QI, HSE departments, NOCA, Academia, Industry and others.  We will empower staff by providing them with the necessary tools and skills that they require to solve the problems that they face on a day to day basis.

Staff will be able to book time in the Pod to work on their projects and seek others that are interested in working together on a particular project.

Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD (Minister of State at the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment) who was due to be present but unfortunately could not attend spoke in advance of the launch, saying: “Innovation in the public service is not only about working with new technologies and systems, it is also about challenging the status quo and problem-solving in a collaborative fashion. It is vital for busy public servants, working in the different areas of a complex healthcare facility like St. James’s, to have a place where they can come together to troubleshoot difficult issues that can affect service provision and ultimately impact on the public.”

St. James’s Hospital CEO, Lorcan Birthistle said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Spark Innovation Pop up Pod’ to St. James’s Hospital. Innovation has paved the way for incredible developments in healthcare. It has created opportunities for staff to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in the care services they provide.  St. James’s Hospital has a strong track record of encouraging and celebrating innovation and hosting this Pod will only serve to enhance the innovative culture that already exists on our campus. I look forward to seeing how staff engage with the pod over the next 12 weeks and the benefits it will bring to our patient services at St. James’s.”

If you would like further information in how to get involved with the Spark Programme or the Pop Up Innovation Pod please email