Ifan Evans - Welsh Government

The Welsh Government innovator helping to change the shape of healthcare in Wales.

In his role leading Healthcare Technology Innovation and Strategy at Welsh Government, Ifan Evans is exploring new ways to speed up innovation across the principality’s health and care systems, so that the NHS in Wales delivers more for the people it serves – and at the same time, he is also tasked with ensuring healthcare activity in Wales supports economic growth and stronger communities.

To achieve these goals, Ifan knows that collaboration is key. And he says Welsh Government is uniquely placed to create the right culture to stimulate positive change. Ifan explains, “Very few entities are interested in looking at the whole impact of a healthcare system on society and the economy. But governments are different. They want to support jobs and growth, encourage learning and ambition, strengthen communities, and secure a future health and care system which is affordable, sustainable and able to meet the needs of everyone. At Welsh Government, we’re bringing lots of people together to collaborate as one around this challenge, including universities, research institutes, charities, social enterprises and commercial businesses.”

If this positions Welsh Government as a facilitator, Ifan is quick to point out that his team is also playing a key role when it comes to innovation. “We do a lot on tech adoption,” Ifan says. “We support the NHS in Wales to engage with new technology opportunities, including quicker assessment of new products and services, and then scaling up the ones that work best.”

“Even more excitingly, we’re working closely with NHS Wales and other partners to develop the solutions we really need. We identify key problems and challenges, and then work together to innovate against those needs to create technologies that address them directly. That is good for the healthcare system, which gets better tools to work with, and good for partners too, because they have viable products and services which meet a real market need.”

The NHS in Wales pioneered working with industry during the eighties and nineties, so this strategy is a purposeful return to this approach. Ifan explains, “By working directly with the corporate sector, the NHS in Wales gains more eyes on problems that need solving, bringing fresh insights from industry and university partners who have a real appetite and incentive to innovate. The pace of change then increases, which is exactly what we want. ”

Ifan attributes his entrepreneurial style of leadership firstly to his experience of building and operating a variety of businesses across different sectors, including leisure, retail, tourism, property and manufacturing, and secondly to learning from the many startup and early growth technology businesses which he and his team work with. “Health and care is a really wonderful place for technology and innovation, and we know we have to keep pace with those businesses, so we are always trying to learn from their approach and energy,” he says.

Asked, about Be The Spark, Ifan is clearly excited about seeing how the programme develops. “Because MIT are involved, if you consider its credentials, Wales is going to benefit from learning about some incredible international best practices. Entrepreneurs here will be inspired to take their businesses to the next level, and that’s something that has to be good for the nation.”