Promoting Innovation at the Harris Health System

Small Grant Funding Program

Innovation in health care is an important strategy to improve quality of care. While research by its very nature generates new knowledge, it often does not directly improve clinical outcomes. Improvement in clinical care requires innovation that becomes new technology or models of care, in addition to research.

The innovation corridor starts with an idea and ends with successful application. The challenge for health care institutions with limited funds is how to encourage innovation at the earliest stages. Seed grants with small amounts of money have been effective in allowing employees to obtain valuable pilot data to test innovative ideas that can be further explored through larger grants when indicated.

  • In 2007, a small grant innovation funding program was initiated by the Harris County Hospital District Foundation to fund short-term pilot projects benefiting patients of Harris Health System. The program awarded relatively small funds (up to $5,000) with the goal of allowing Harris Health employees to apply for small grants to develop innovative ideas for which there were no other avenues for funding.
  • In 2010, a second grant innovation funding program was initiated by Harris Health System to fund short-term projects benefitting staff. This program also awarded relatively small funds (up to $5,000).
  • In 2016, a third grant innovation funding program was initiated by the Foundation that exceeded $5,000 for Harris Health programs, services, or administrative needs not covered by the Harris Health System budget.

These funding opportunities are for the purpose of innovation. Innovation being defined as a new method, product, service or idea with the potential to improve any aspect of health care at Harris Health. The majority of the grant applications received were fully funded and extremely diverse. Innovation in health care has the potential to enhance many processes to improve access, quality and affordability through new and creative approaches. Regardless of the amounts of money available for funding innovation, the challenging question for health care institutions is whether to invest in several large projects or many small projects.

For over ten years, the Foundation’s Small Grants continues to provide seed money for projects to motivate employees to think in a different way about what we do, how we do it; with the overall goal of creating a better place to work and care for our patients, and to stimulate innovation in a health care setting.

To date, the Foundation Small Grants has funded over $344,000 for Harris Health System programs!

Go to the Grants Page to download the application.

All Harris Health System’s pavilions, clinics and departments are eligible to apply. Please complete the three-page grant application and budget template. Acquire all needed signatures. Grant requests received without a completed application and/or without the CEO approval will not be considered.

Small Grants Application Deadlines for 2017 are: Feb 28, May 31, Aug 31, & Nov 30. Grants that exceed $5,000 – applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.


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