The NHS Confederation is working with a venture capitalist firm to seek private backing for innovations in the NHS.

Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar was due to announce the next step in a ground-breaking scheme to develop ideas initiated in the service at the organisation’s conference this week.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ, he said NHS Confederation’s health innovation directory initiative had appointed a fund management firm to attract investment for the “90-plus” ideas which had already registered with it.

The directory is intended to get private backing for NHS innovations which could later be sold outside the UK.

Mr Farrar said the directory was now working with venture capitalist firm Apposite Capital, which specialises in healthcare investments.

Last year Mr Farrar said the scheme aimed to turn NHS ideas into a “commercial reality for the benefit of patients, and in turn, trusts themselves”. He this week told HSJ 16 English trusts had signed up to the work.

He said: “For years we have talked about the frustration in the service about our ability to take an idea to scale.

“But now the NHS has skin in the game for the first time. It will mean these innovations are spread and are sold abroad.”

Member trusts have already paid a sum – in the order of tens of thousands of pounds – to join the scheme.

When funding for a trust’s idea is received, it will be able to pay into a joint investment vehicle, and in turn receive some of the profits from the work, while retaining the intellectual property rights.

Mr Farrar stressed the member organisations were not obliged to adopt the ideas of other members. He said: “[We] effectively have a number of trusts who are interested in getting something to a proof of concept [stage]”.

Mr Farrar said the difficulty of developing proposals in the NHS currently often meant ideas were developed abroad, then had to be bought back.

He gave the example of the Charnley artificial hip joint, which was developed at Wrightington Hospital, and subsequently used all over the world, but brought little financial return to the NHS.

The 16 trusts so far signed up with the directory are:

King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust

University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust

Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust

Heart of England Foundation Trust

Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust

Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust

Southampton University Hospitals Foundation Trust

University Hospitals Leicester Trust

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust

South Tees Hospital Foundation Trust

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Trust

Central Manchester Foundation Trust

The Christie Foundation Trust

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust