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ICO Innovation Hub and the MHRA

Posted on 2 November 2020

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) set up the Regulator's Business Innovation Privacy Hub (the Innovation Hub) in November 2018 to provide, in partnership with other regulators, expert support to businesses in information privacy and data protection. The Innovation Hub deals with data protection issues relevant to innovative businesses in different sectors, including businesses regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

On 28 August 2020 the ICO published a project report reflecting on the Innovation Hub's successes to date, and followed this up on the 8 September 2020 with a blog summarising the ten top tips for innovators.

Since the Innovation Hub's inception the ICO has:

  • Advised the MHRA on the development and use of synthetic datasets.
  • Collaborated with Reform and NHSX on the development of detailed patient data flows and associated challenges and risks including data protection.
  • Advised the NHSX on the data protection considerations related to the development and regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), with a particular focus on patient data from its creation for direct care to the processes for accessing data for research purposes. In addition to this the ICO and MHRA worked together in order to identify potential risks and perceived regulatory barriers when using AI in connection with patient data.
  • Contributed to cross-government events and roundtables about regulatory reform in order to ensure that data protection remained a key point of awareness and discussion.

Following the success of the Innovation Hub the ICO has decided to retain it on a permanent basis, to form part of its Technology and Innovation Service. The ICO confirms that it will continue its engagement with the MHRA via NHSX AI working groups.

It will be interesting to see the Innovation Hub's recommendations and tips to specialist innovators within the MedTech space; hopefully we will not have to wait long for this, as it is a growing area of interest for many businesses and the public alike.

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