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The imIN-hub aims to envision health services for the citizen of tomorrow. It focuses on developing and adapting towards innovation products, services and training in the areas of eHealth, ICT, Mobile, AI, and Robotics. The project aims to take targeted actions to achieve a digital health model closer to citizens at every stage of their life. The imIN-hub seeks to be the backbone of health innovation in Portugal while working on internal innovation of the national public health company (SPMS) alongside the community.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Portugal lacks the institutionalisation of innovation in its public health system. Although SPMS, as a public company with an innovative DNA, have been filling such a gap through its portfolio of products and services, the system lacks a leader of innovation in health. After hosting three editions of eHealth Summit ( there was the opportunity of using this public crowdsourcing platform to cement the company's position as an innovation leader, not just through events, but as part of its core business. Thanks to its expertise and know-how, and through the right governance and strategy, the SPMS was able to focus on innovation and hub the best ideas and solutions with the potential to improve both the company itself and the country's public health system.
For SPMS, innovation is not just creating a new product or solution; it is the most suitable way to satisfy a need, which can be made through something new or through the improvement of quality on something that already exists.

Two key drivers were identified for innovation: the organization (SPMS) and the Public Health Sector.
When considering the goals to attend these two drivers, it was decided to:
1) innovate the company by digitalising all its aspects and improving processes efficiency, thereby enabling employees to feel empowered to think about the future of the company and of the public health sector more generally;
2) innovate the public health sector by renovating the company's portfolio of products and services so it can meet the needs and expectations of the citizen of tomorrow.
Working towards these two goals, the team realised that it could benefit from the experience of the eHealth Summit as well as from the know-how and position of the event's participants. For this reason, the imIN-Hub was created as an open space where internal agents can join forces with external voices of transformation.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Innovation is not something new at SPMS. A BPM project has already been started as part of the team's desire to upscale agility and efficiency internally. But thinking innovation alongside with company stakeholders is something unique for the community. imIN-hub aims to bring the public closer in the path through and towards innovation.

Every team member is a citizen before being part of the business. The Hub aims to humanize the process of innovation by giving SPMS employees and external stakeholders a space to discuss about their ideas and expectations for the near future. The proximity between external and internal actors is the true innovation.

Thinking together is more likely to bring success than thinking alone. Especially considering that as a public company in a country still navigating through an economy crisis and austerity, partnerships can at times play a decisive role when financial resources are lacking.

What is the current status of your innovation?

The team is picking agents of change, facilitators, mentors and fellows to integrate in the Hub.
During this period it is conducting several workshops to find the most suitable innovators to integrate the HUB, from both inside the organization and outside. When formulating the governance model, two strategic goals were defined so the ideas and solutions generated can answer the needs that led to the creation of the HUB. Once the team is created, it is expected to initiate cross-learning and mentoring sessions on innovation architecture, agility methods, as well as some outside business-screen sessions to learn and discuss best practices and successful projects run by similar businesses. As the HUB's is also intent to engage with its surroundings, some events such as a share-con (internal share session), a hackathon and a hackaccelerator will take place. To monitor its execution, the HUB will deliver a report of recommendations on a quarter basis.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

imIN-Hub aims to form partnerships and collaborations with organisations and companies inside and outside the health sector, nationally and internationally. Firstly, to hear about their experiences on how they have been working in innovation, so as to improve the innovation structure; then to learn about the best practices and methodologies, so as to produce the best ideas and most innovative solutions.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Citizens: the driver for the ultimate innovation provided from SPMS to the Portuguese National Health System, through the Hub.
Government officials: Considering that SPMS is a public company and the National Health System a public service, government officials are active stakeholders as they can play the role of regulators and facilitators (in terms of budget and delivery).
Civil society organisations and companies: Co-creators of products and services and/or part of the think-thank and crowdsourcing platform included the imIN-Hub.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

imIN-Hub was projected to start running in mid-2020. At the moment SPMS is picking agents of change and facilitators and mentors and fellows. In late 2019 SPMS started a hearing process to pick the internal stakeholders who will have an active role in the hub as agents of change and facilitators.The 1st part of the hearing process happened through a workshop, in which key-players were presented with sessions on organizational innovation, to be encouraged to find new opportunities for improvement.
The 2nd part of the hearing process had the duration of one week, in which internal key-players had several sessions regarding organisational strategy and innovation followed by several assessments such as stakeholders mapping and SWOT/PEST analysis.
The 3rd part of the hearing process will include external stakeholders and will focus on the importance of co-creation and collaboration as a driver of innovation.

Challenges and Failures

Considering that SPMS is a public company with the State being its only shareholder, financing the Hub was the first challenge encountered.
To overcome it, the Hub is expecting to receive part of the necessary investment from the Competitiveness and Internationalisation Structural Fund allocated to Portugal from the European Union.


The organisational and public health sector innovation are not easy goals. But with clear purpose, motivated personnel and with the right partners to elaborate a portfolio of inspirational ideas and projects, a Hub can focus on new explorations while the company delivers its core offers.
In an era of fast-paced change and tech disruption, to incubate the best ideas with the most passionate and talented personnel and influential stakeholders will lead organisations to realise what citizens are expecting from them. The community that Hubs attain is also something very worth the effort. If other businesses are based on something that society is concerned about, as Health is for SPEM, the replication of this Hub starts by daring to be closer to them in the definition of value in the near future.

Lessons Learned

#1. Define bold but tangible goals:
If your Hub aims to serve not only the public but your institution, start by envisioning where you want to be in 3 years so it's easier to project the path and engaging with others who can be key-players in the mission.
#2 Face the easy problems first:
If you solve problems in the organisation, you make the life of your internal key-players easier, leading them to trust the process and start believing in the new way of working. In the beginning you need success stories, so people can easily see the impact of the Hub. Pick a problem that you can solve easily, like upscaling an existing project that aims to digitalise every process of the company and empower people to work digitally.
#3. Collect leadership support and involvement:
Leadership support is crucial for an innovation hub to succeed. It is perhaps the n°1 requirement. Leadership support matters when things go wrong and when times are tough. Pick someone to step in when public sphere demands an influential leader and the company fails to open for change.
#4. Find the space:
Protect the space for the innovation hub. This is crucial once you’ve gained some momentum and people in your organisation want to make part of it. People must be securely away from their daily work environment, so they feel motivated to ideate solutions without being poisoned by their daily work atmosphere.
#5. KYC
To know your client is important in any business. If your end-user is not someone you know, your innovation is likely to fail. Start by getting to know your client, end-user and stakeholders, and figure out what their interests, expectations and influences are. Have it visible at all times. That will help at innovation brainstorms.

Year: 2020
Level of Government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

19 March 2021

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