SME of the Week: Alva – What we’ve learnt from the Launchpad programme

Annie Coleridge, Co-Founder of DigitalHealth.London Launchpad company Alva, shares the three big lessons they’ve learnt about working with the NHS during their time on the programme.

Every week at Alva we schedule in time for the whole team to ‘pause and reflect’ on their week. As we come to the end of the time on the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad we wanted to reflect on our learnings

  1. The NHS wants to innovate

There’s a common misconception among those who have not worked within the NHS that it does not welcome change. But that feels wrong on many levels. Firstly, the NHS is not a single organisation but many different ones – all of which work differently. Secondly, a safety first approach should not be mistaken for a lack of wanting innovation. Within the NHS patient safety will always come first, which is why evidencing your innovation is of primary importance. Lastly, there’s people working within the NHS who are innovators themselves and advocate for change. Some of them we met during this programme.

  1. Find your people

The importance of building relationships struck us as we moved through the programme. When everyone is busy, change can be hard. Building long term relationships with stakeholders who can advocate for you will help you enter the NHS market at the right time. 

  1. Navigating the NHS is hard – but it is possible

So many small companies struggle with the challenge of navigating the different layers in the NHS. With the help of programmes like the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad and Accelerator, you can do it though! Research who you are meeting and what the incentives of that person and their organisation are. Like with any pitch as a startup, you need to tailor it to strike a chord with your audience.

Alva’s about to launch our first product in beta. It supports women to understand their menopausal symptoms and explains their treatment options. In the last month we’ve been invited into our first NHS Trust to speak to staff about the impact of menopause. We’re so grateful to have been a part of the Launchpad programme – it helped us understand the steps we need to take to work with NHS organisations.

You might be interested in: DigitalHealth.London Accelerator: Reflecting on the past year