UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences


Interdisciplinary teams win £20k of funding as part of ACCELERATE Innovation Team Challenge (2021)

Two teams have each been awarded £10k to help fund their original ideas to tackle healthcare challenges after taking part in an 8-week training programme for leadership, communication, and teamwork.

13 September 2021

The now funded project ideas are:  

Team PEEK - Participation, Education, Empowerment, Knowledge, who aim to build a YouTube-based community to aid the transition from paediatric to adult care. 

PEEK Team Members: 

Team AccessBrain, who will work on the development of a human iPSC-derived 3D blood brain barrier model (BBB) for assessment of BBB permeability of drug candidates and excipients. 

AccessBrain Team Members: 

Teams pitched their ideas to a Dragons’ Den style panel and were awarded funding for their 6–12-month proposals on a competitive basis. 

All teams consist of UCL researchers from various disciplines and backgrounds. The teams, and the funding, have been brought together as part of ACCELERATE Innovation: Team Challenge, a scheme that forms part of the wider ACCELERATE programme at UCL. ACCELERATE aims to promote, enable and support translational research for researchers through training and development and is a joint venture from the UCL Academic Careers Office and the UCL Translational Research Office, supported by the Wellcome Trust. The Team Challenge has been organised in partnership with the UCL NIHR Biomedical Research Centres.  

“We are so proud of what the teams have achieved, and we are inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that each participant brought to the ACCELERATE Innovation Team Challenge. We hope that the participants will draw on the skills and lessons, that they learnt during the training programme, in their careers going forward as they champion interdisciplinary working for healthcare research.“ ~ Kim Gurwitz, ACCELERATE manager 

Chatting participants at ACCELERATE event

Team Challenge was based around the idea of ‘What happens when researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines put their expertise together to solve healthcare challenges?’ It brought together participants who are all UCL researchers with an interest in healthcare. Their backgrounds, expertise, and experiences are wide ranging and diverse to create a truly interdisciplinary cohort. This includes engineers, molecular biologists, clinicians, among others. 

Teams form in the first few weeks of the multi-week programme and are supported with training, hands-on experience, and funding for their healthcare innovations. Participants are encouraged to come up with proposals that are best solved by the unique combination of skills and experiences of their team members. 

Teams are coached through a four-stage innovation process comprising (1) ideation, (2) influence, (3) iteration, and (4) implementation, to learn: 

  • Effective team working strategies 

  • Negotiation and engagement skills within a team and with external stakeholders 

  • Solution creation and risk mitigation 

  • Pitching skills and strategic planning for the future. 

A major focus of the Team Challenge is the personal career development of each participant through training in leadership, teamwork, and communication. Indeed, we have received very positive feedback about the initiative in terms of both developing new collaborations as well as developing skills for how to work effectively in teams, which we hope participants take forward into their careers.  

Comments from participants include:  

“The Team Challenge is a great opportunity to establish new collaborations across multiple disciplines that would have not developed without this programme. I have also developed new contacts across UCL and with external stakeholders that has helped my own work as well as the team’s.” 

“I've been lucky to work in teams outside of the programme where there hasn't really been any conflict (personality, work or otherwise). The team [for the Team Challenge] at points had some moments of conflict so experiencing that, how to deal with it and move forward has been really valuable.” 

 Teams not allocated funding through the Team Challenge were supported with coaching to determine the next steps for their project. We’ve encouraged all teams to keep in touch and we look forward to hearing about and supporting their progress in the coming months. 

Applications for round 2 of the Team Challenge are now open! More information and sign up here

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact the ACCELERATE manager, Kim Gurwitz, k.gurwitz@ucl.ac.uk 

ACCELERATE Innovation: Team Challenge is an ACCELERATE initiative.