Nurse-led research and innovation is key to improving health experiences and outcomes and reducing health inequalities. Clinical academic training programmes for nurses to develop research and innovation skills alongside continued development of their clinical practice are becoming increasingly established at national, regional and local levels. Though widely supported, geographical variation in the range and scope of opportunities available remains. It is imperative that clinical academic opportunities for nurses continue to grow to ensure equity of access and opportunity so that the potential of nurse-led clinical academic research to improve quality of care, health experience and health outcomes can be realised. In this paper we describe and report on clinical academic internship opportunities available to nurses to share internationally, a range of innovative programmes currently in operation across the UK. Examples of some of the tangible benefits for patients, professional development, clinical teams and NHS organisations resulting from these clinical academic internships are illustrated. Information from local evaluations of internship programmes were collated to report what has worked well alongside 'real-world' set-up and sustainability challenges faced in practice. Clinical academic internship schemes are often opportunistically developed, making use of hybrid models of delivery and funding responsive to local needs and available resources. Key enablers of successful clinical academic internship programmes for nurses were support from senior clinical leaders and established relationships with local universities and wider organisations committed to research capacity building.