Press release

£4 million for innovative solutions to tackle healthcare problems

The government has announced £4 million of funding for businesses to develop cutting-edge ideas to address some of the biggest health problems of our time.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Department of Health has opened two new competitions with up to £2 million of funding each to develop technological and innovative solutions that can:

• Change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases.
• Improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed.

Obesity and Alcohol related diseases and patients not taking their medication as prescribed are major health challenges. Alcohol and Obesity related diseases cost the NHS over £7 billion each year and between 6-10 % of all hospital admissions could be preventable if prescription medication was taken correctly. Businesses are invited to come up with innovative solutions to these challenges. This could be anything from a device which helps people monitor what they eat or drink or a personalised care package to help people take their medication as prescribed.

Health Minister, Lord Howe said:

“Technology and innovation have an important role to play in helping to address the healthcare challenges facing the NHS. That is why we are investing £20 million in new and creative ideas and projects which can make a difference to patients’ lives.

“Today’s competitions provide an opportunity to develop highly innovative solutions for some of the biggest health problems of our time and we look forward to seeing the results.”

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS said:

“Investing in innovation is vital for a modern and efficient NHS- it will benefit the patient, the taxpayer and UK plc. The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a key part of the Innovation, Health and Wealth agenda, which aims to spread innovation throughout the NHS.

“These competitions provide vital funding for businesses to explore, develop and test new technology before it becomes commercially available. Organisations are invited to submit their ideas which could have a real impact on patients and the NHS.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“The SBRI process enables government to engage with innovative ideas from industry, acting as a lead customer to address intractable challenges.  It is really positive to see DH and the NHS, building on their experience of previous successful SBRI competitions, using this approach to address new areas and drive innovation.”

The competitions will be run through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) process and are open to all organisations not just those in the health sector. Recent competition winners include Eykona Technologies Ltd. who has developed a novel 3D wound imaging system which allows healthcare professionals to monitor chronic wounds more effectively and tailor treatment accordingly. This system is currently being sold to the NHS.

The competitions will be managed by NHS London and NHS Midlands and East.

Businesses can find out more about the competitions by attending a briefing session, which will be held in London on 12th April. More details are available at the SBRI website.

Notes to Editors:

• For further information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

• One of the published measures in “The Plan for Growth” issued by HM Treasury and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in March 2011 was that DH is committing £10 million on SBRI competitions that address healthcare challenges.
In December 2011 it was published in “Innovation Health and Wealth” that DH will double its investment in SBRI, which equates to £20 million.

• NHS London will manage the process in partnership with London Health Programmes for the competition ‘changing behaviour to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases. NHS Midlands and East will manage the process for the competition ‘Improve the number of patients taking their prescribed medication.

• Innovation, Health and Wealth
Innovation, health and Wealth sets out a delivery agenda for spreading innovation at pace and scale throughout the NHS. It includes a number of actions that will deliver game changing improvements in the quality and value of care delivered in the NHS. They are designed as an integrated set of measures that together will support the NHS in achieving a systematic and profound change in the way the NHS operates. The IHW Implementation Board that reports to the NHS Chief Executive (chaired by Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, CE, NHS South of England) has met three times, and we have established cross-sector ‘Task and Finish’ Groups to lead the implementation of each recommendation, including our commitment on SBRI investment. The NHS is starting to mobilise to deliver IHW. For example, the North has established a CEO forum to oversee delivery, in the East the region wide Innovation Council has been asked to lead delivery and we are working with NHS commissioners to ensure their delivery plans for 2012/13 support delivery of the High Impact Innovations.

• The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit the Technology Strategy Board website.

• SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) is co-ordinated by the Technology Strategy Board and is designed to encourage government departments and other agencies to ensure that a proportion of their procurement budget goes to innovative companies, and that they are procuring innovative solutions to some of the challenges that they face.  The aim of SBRI is to use the power of government procurement to drive technology development, especially in early-stage companies, supporting projects through the stages of prototyping and demonstration, which are typically hard to fund.  SBRI offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to develop and demonstrate technology, supported by a customer, and to reach the first rung on the government procurement ladder. For more information visit the SBRI website.

• Obesity and Alcohol related diseases are a major health problem and represent a significant cost burden to the NHS. In 2011 there were around 1 million alcohol related hospital admissions costing the NHS around £2.7 billion. In England more than 60% of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds overweight or obese. It is estimated that between 30-50% of prescribed medication is not taken as recommended which results in between 6-10 % of all hospital admissions.

• NHS London is the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) for the whole of the Greater London area. NHS London provides strategic leadership for the capital’s healthcare and makes sure the 13 billion annual investment in staff and services delivers the best possible care and support for the public and patients. NHS London also has a duty to promote innovation and to encourage NHS services in London to constantly find new ways to improve the health of Londoners, tackle health inequalities and provide the highest quality services.

• NHS Midlands and East is the Strategic Health Authority cluster incorporating NHS East of England, NHS West Midlands and NHS East Midlands which provides strategic direction for healthcare services across this cluster.

Competition details

Competition - Change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases.

The application process is run through NHS London. All applications should be made using the application form, which can be downloaded from the NHS London website.

Key dates

Competition launch 28 March 2012
Deadline for applications  1 June 2012

Competition - Improve the number of patients taking their prescribed medication.

The application process is run through Health Enterprise East, the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England. All applications should be made using the application forms, which can be downloaded from the Health Enterprise East website.
Please email your forms to by 1200hrs on 18th May 2012.

Key dates
Competition launch 28 March 2012
Deadline for applications 18 May 2012

Published 28 March 2012