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Innovation has always been a core value at MaineHealth, says Susan Ahern, vice president of innovation for Maine’s largest, and only, academic healthcare system. “It’s the connective tissue of education, research, and care.”
Ahern leads MaineHealth’s Innovation Center, overseeing a multidisciplinary team focused on identifying “big ideas” and solutions to unmet care needs across the 22,000-employee organization and its community partners. She has earned her stripes as an innovation strategist, having previously directed the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center’s program that expedites academic spinouts, led Canada’s first-ever international accelerator, and co-founded four companies.
MaineHealth was quick to sign on as one of the Roux Institute’s founding partners. Ahern’s innovation team is now exploring a co-location arrangement at the Roux’s new facility in downtown Portland (which is owned by WEX, Inc., another founding partner). With Roux, the innovation team has launched the Innovation Blender series, a monthly forum in which local healthcare innovators share ideas with Roux and MaineHealth, forge connections, and brainstorm to solve problems.
Roux is a game-changer for MaineHealth and Portland, Ahern says. In addition to incubating fresh ideas, the Roux-MaineHealth partnership will include research collaborations, joint faculty appointments, customized courses and certificates, and an online repository of courses MaineHealth employees can access on demand.
“It’s already an amazing partnership,” she says. “It’s accelerating our rocket ship of innovation.”