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Multi-million funding boost for health tech innovators developing the next generation of cutting-edge technologies


Multi-million funding boost for health tech innovators developing the next generation of cutting-edge technologies
  • Culmination of £35M of government funding through the Digital Health Technology Catalyst to support over 200 SME innovators
  • Announcement of the final ten SMEs who will receive over £4M to develop their innovations
  • Health minister celebrates pioneering projects at the Nexus innovation hub at the University of Leeds, alongside innovators, investors and senior leaders from across the NHS

Baroness Blackwood has today announced £4M of funding to support a host of SME innovators to develop their exciting healthtech innovations.

From new software to improve patient safety during operations, to internet of things technologies to support those with chronic kidney disease, these innovations have the potential to benefit patients across the UK and beyond.

This funding is part of the Digital Health Technology Catalyst (DHTC) - £35M of government funding as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The DHTC has already supported over 200 SME innovators from across the UK to turn their brilliant ideas into reality.

Previous winners such as FundamentalVR, have gone on to secure significant private sector investment and have seen their innovations adopted within the NHS, improving the lives of NHS patients and clinicians.

Funding to support SME innovators is part of a wider government commitment to ensure the UK has one of the most innovative healthcare ecosystems in the world. Central to this is the work of the Accelerated Access Collaborative, a ground-breaking initiative bringing together senior leaders from across government, industry and the health system, to improve join-up, act as the front-door for innovator support, overcome barriers to innovation and to improve patient access to the best new treatments and technologies.

Speaking at a DHTC celebration event at the Nexus innovation hub (University of Leeds) Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health, Baroness Blackwood said: “As demand on the NHS continues to grow, it is vital we harness the power of technology to improve patient care and to help people live longer, healthier lives.

That’s why I am delighted to today announce further funding to help a host of exciting SMEs to develop the next generation of health innovations. From new technologies to improve safety in operating theatres to home monitoring solutions to support those with chronic kidney disease, these new technologies will ensure the NHS continues to offer world-leading care.”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Nadhim Zahawi said: “The UK has a long and rich history of driving medical advances that help save people’s lives, not just in this country but around the world.

Projects announced today will help us build on our exceptional reputation and remain at the forefront of scientific endeavour. From baby heart rate monitors to swab-tests that assist wound healing, these products and services have the potential to give all of us longer, healthier and happier lives.”

Andy Jones, Head of the DHTC for Innovate UK said: “The projects we have announced today represent the cutting edge in digital health. And the showcase in Leeds demonstrates that these technologies are making a difference on the ground. Technologies such as AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things are all going to improve the lives of both patients and clinicians. By backing these innovations we will build on the UK’s global leadership in life sciences and help to create the industries and jobs of the future.”

Some of the exciting innovations receiving funding – subject to final financial checks – include:

  • A device being developed by Enita Ltd for patients with chronic kidney disease which can monitor their blood at home. This will cut down on hospital admissions and improve treatment. Enita are working with Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network.
  • ‘OR Bot’ – intelligent software being developed by Scalpel to improve the reliability, and efficacy of safety checks in the operating room. This will improve patient safety and also productivity within the OR. Salpel ar working with Leeds Teaching Hospitals and NHS Trust.
  • The use of AI to improve the detection of Diabetic Retinopathy. RestinScan are collaborating with the University of Surrey and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

And some of the most successful recipients from previous funding rounds include:

  • FundamentalVR’s virtual reality surgical training platform. Following their DHTC funding and the platform’s success, Fundamental has raised over $2.6M USD in venture capital investments, received several awards, including being named one of the Times’s ’50 best inventions of 2018’ and developed international partnerships, e.g. with the Mayo Clinic in the US. The company is now looking to sell into international markets, including the US and has seen their surgery platform adopted within the NHS.
  • GripAble, a simple, patented technology, based around mobile-gaming, that enables low-cost self-assessment and training of arm disability in hospitals or home. Thee DHTC project helped to improve GripAble’s systems by developing new features requested by both patients and clinicians. The technology has since been taken up in several NHS trusts, including Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust and King’s College NHS Foundation Trust.

Notes to editors

Funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Digital Health Technology Catalyst (DHTC) is a £35 million fund, being run over 4 years. All awards are conditional on final financial checks

The DHTC is an important element of the government’s plans to implement the Accelerated Access Review (AAR). Through the DHTC, collaborations have been built between industry, innovators and the NHS to ensure the success of the UK life sciences sector and to get the best new technologies into the UK health market.

The DHTC aims to address some of the challenges that the AAR identified around the development of digital health innovations, and to help grow the digital health sector.

Full list of Round 4 recipients:

Project 1: DNA data management portal:

Lead Innovator: Sano Genetics Limited. In partnership with Zetta Genomics and Genomics England

Description: The project focuses on the development of a platform for engagement in precision medicine research. Sano, Zetta, and Genomics England will work together to develop a secure repository for patient reported outcomes (PROs) provided online by participants. The user interface is intended to allow participants to input PROs and patient-generated health data (PGHD) to enrich existing genomic and health data. A key area of focus is the visualisation of this information to make the platform more engaging, delivering benefits to research participants and researchers.

Project 2: iMedReporter

Lead Innovator: Ignite Data. In partnership with Clevedon Medical Centre

Description: iMedReporter is ground-breaking software that will reduce the need for expensive and inefficient manual onsite monitoring of clinical studies, thereby speeding up delivery of research. The transformational project will directly link medical records (EHR) with clinical research databases (EDC) to automate some of the 13-69% of clinical study data that it is estimated could have been prepopulated straight from medical records.

Project 3: Evaluation for effectiveness and market readiness of an ego-centric computer vision based surgical safety system

Lead Innovator: Scalpel. In collaboration with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


This project aims to improve the reliability and efficacy of safety steps in surgery, and productivity of the operating room by using OR BOT. OR BOT is an AI assisted software that uses Computer Vision and Data analytics to validate patient safety in real-time.

Project 4: AI-CARE - Artificial Intelligence for Cataract surgery Risk Estimation and reduction

Lead Innovator: Digital Surgery Limited. In partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital

Description: the project will develop an AI framework with supporting hardware to automatically analyse cataract surgical procedures. These, in turn, will be used to develop best practice surgical workflows to train the operating room team, optimise surgical performance and monitor and assess surgical competence that will ultimately improve patient care and outcomes.

Project 5: Medici: Augmented Quantitative Motor Function Assessment

Lead Innovator: Vitrue. In collaboration with the University of Oxford

Description: to develop and refine the novel motor function assessment algorithms proposed during Vitrue's Innovate UK funded feasibility project using machine learning techniques.

To investigate the predictive power of autonomous assessment metrics with patient populations and research associated decision support technology.

To establish the validity of autonomous motor function assessment outputs in clinical trials

Project 6: Can a digital and IoT-enabled behaviour change programme achieve >15kg weight loss and 70% type 2 diabetes remission rates?

Lead Innovator: Oviva. In partnership with South West London Health and Care Partnership and University of Westminster

Description: The partners seek to evaluate whether adding weight & activity-tracking IoT-devices and a linked patient-engagement algorithm to Oviva's current remission programme (called Diabetes 800) can achieve >15kg weight loss and 70% type 2 diabetes-remission rates at 12-months in 300 NHS patients recruited from GP practices across South West London and Buckinghamshire.

Project 7: RetinaUWF - AI Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy in Ultra-Wide-Field Retinal Images

Lead Innovator: RestinScan. In collaboration with the University of Surry and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Description: in this project, RetinaScan Ltd (RSL) partners with the leading NHS-DESP at Gloucester and Surrey University (CVSSP) to develop the world's first AI to analyse UWF images for DR screening. We will further innovate our successful A-CNN deep-learning architecture to achieve high detection performance and robustness to UWF distortions such as blurring and occlusions.

Project 8: A Machine Learning/AI Cancer Rule-Out Test for the NHS Two Week Wait Pathway

Lead Innovator: Pinpoint Cancer Ltd. In partnership with University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Description: to develop a machine learning/AI system to solve a specific challenge faced by the NHS Two Week Wait cancer diagnosis pathway. Our solution uses the insight that complementary data are available for each patient from a wide range of blood measurements and Electronic Health Records. Combining these data in a machine learning/AI system leads to a system that identifies with high accuracy those patients who do not have cancer. These patients can then be safely returned to GP, where they can be investigated for other possible causes of their symptoms

Project 9: Bridging the Ageing Population Service Gap through the Application of Machine Learning & AI to Home Care

Lead Innovator: Vida with Alcove

Description: Vida's mission is to combine technology and care to enable vulnerable adults to remain living independently in the comfort of their own homes for longer. In this project, we are developing machine learning algorithms that use IoT home monitoring device data and medical care records to detect the onset of UTIs. This will allow us to prevent the infection from developing, which would otherwise result in the patient being admitted to hospital, before being discharged to a residential care home where their life expectancy drops to just 2.5 years and the cost of care increases threefold.

Project 10: Anaemia of Chronic Kidney Disease: Empowering patients by bringing treatment closer to them

Lead Innovator:  Entia. In partnership with with Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Y&H AHSN

Description: this project will see the late-stage development of a home monitoring solution that includes the world's first home haemoglobin blood testing device, blood pressure monitoring and a digital application for tracking patient reported outcomes. The result of this work is a solution that will reduce hospital appointments, improve treatment compliance, ensure fewer adverse events and more effectively utilise costly medications.

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