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National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): Creating new collaboration for 10,000 health researchers

To get maximum impact from this investment, health researchers need to be able to collaborate effectively, even when they are based in different institutions or working in different locations. This is what ‘the Hub’ – a finalist for the 2014 UK IT Industry awards – makes possible.

The new cloud-based platform, developed by PA for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), allows 10,000 researchers and staff to share data, results and ideas, hold video meetings, collaborate in real time and connect with other research teams across the globe. Users can access the Hub from any web browser or mobile device.

Customised by PA, the Hub is the largest UK implementation of Google Apps for the public sector to date. It is already delivering important benefits. For the first time ever, the Hub establishes a single directory of people working within the NIHR or on research projects funded by the NIHR. The Hub provides over 1,000 times the storage of the old system and has reduced the NIHR’s annual running costs for its collaboration platform by around 50%.

The launch of the Hub has produced a massive increase in the number of people using the NIHR collaboration platform – only 10% of possible users actively used the old system, but this has increased to 50% on the Hub.

"The Department of Health oversee the commissioning of the National Institute for Health Research, which includes the provision of information services. The Department selected PA Consulting Group from the G-cloud framework, following a value for money selection process as part of the G-cloud services. PA have enabled the NIHR to do a quantum leap in technology provision, by moving the business services technology to a cloud-based set of services. These services provide a level of collaboration over a range of hosted research management services that had been impossible for decades. In the three years working with PA the NIHR has taken a 10-year advancement in technology deployment to fully the business needs of a highly distributed environment."

- Peter Knight, Deputy Director at the Department of Health for Research Contracting, Information Intelligence and Stakeholder Engagement


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