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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cde-themed-competition-detect-and-treat-hearing-loss-and-tinnitus/competition-document-detect-and-treat-hearing-loss-and-tinnitus
1. Detect and treat hearing loss and tinnitus
This Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) themed competition is seeking new solutions and technologies to detect hearing loss and tinnitus early and interventions to minimise hearing loss and treat or restore hearing capacity.
Your proposal must be received by CDE by 5pm on Thursday 21 April 2016. Proposals must be submitted to CDE online.
The health and wellbeing of armed forces personnel throughout their career is very important. It allows the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to operate effectively.
One area of particular concern is the potential for hearing loss and tinnitus; specifically, noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
Many employees in the UK and worldwide are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels at work, but in military service it’s loud, impulsive noise that’s a specific occupational hazard. The recent high levels of operational tempo and accompanying exposure to novel or sustained noise hazards have resulted in an increase in the numbers of personnel suffering from hearing damage, including noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
There are 2 main causes of hearing loss in the armed forces:
- exposure to low-frequency, constant noise from, for example, operating noisy machinery or travelling in helicopters or armoured vehicles
- exposure to high-frequency impulse noises, such as weapons, explosive devices or other percussive sounds
Effects can be short term or chronic, resulting in permanent hearing loss and debilitating tinnitus. It can have adverse consequences for the individual’s operational service and, in some instances, can be life changing.
For MOD, there are significant consequences associated with safety, communications and degradation of operational forces.
MOD has a duty of care to prevent injury by using protective measures; but also needs to maintain operational effectiveness when injury does occur by diagnosing and treating as early and as effectively as possible.
- Allied joint medical support doctrine
- Defence Medical Services
- Royal Navy medical services
- Army medical services
- Royal Air Force medical services
3. Technology challenges
3.1 Challenge 1: monitor and diagnose
We’re looking for proof-of-concept research proposals to develop technologies to identify those at risk of injury to hearing, diagnose hearing loss early, and objectively measure tinnitus.
The UK MOD is responsible for ensuring that the best possible protection from noise is available to its service personnel to prevent hearing loss and to preserve functional hearing.
In this challenge, we want proposals to develop or enhance technologies or systems for auditory health surveillance within a military context. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- novel enhancements to current hearing screening methods
- solutions to identify individual susceptibility and risk
- improvements to standard audiometry surveillance tools, including remote monitoring and self-assessment
- understanding and assessing tinnitus
3.2 Challenge 2: treat and restore
We’re looking for proof-of-concept research proposals to develop interventions to stop hearing deterioration and/or restore hearing.
This challenge is seeking potential novel solutions that go beyond current options to stop further hearing loss and, potentially, restore hearing function.
In this challenge, proposals may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- restoring damaged cells and cell structures using regenerative medicine
- rehabilitation using hearing aids, together with targeted aural rehabilitation, listening and communications strategies
- pharmaceutical and therapeutic interventions
- gene therapies
- treating tinnitus using, for example, pharmacotherapies, stimulation, cognitive and behavioural therapy, sound therapy or habituation therapy
4. What we want
In this CDE themed competition we’re looking for proposals that address at least one of the challenges above, but could address both.
We’re looking for high-risk, high-potential-benefit research proposals that will demonstrate or de-risk the exploitation of technologies. This includes concepts or practical demonstrations (components or sub-systems as well as complete systems), supported by scientific understanding and analysis.
Proposals should be clear on how they apply to military medical procedures and the potential benefit that they could provide.
- consider value for money, including potential costs to MOD of introduction, and time-saving benefits
- describe technologies that can be integrated into existing MOD systems and facilities, taking into account the environment in which they will be used and the training burden associated with use
- describe technologies that can be updated or upgraded easily in future
- provide information on how the technology can be validated or accredited against standards and cross-referenced to current models
- produce solutions that require minimal training or changes to existing practice
- demonstrate a proof-of-concept for further investigation
Although at this proof-of-concept stage it’s not necessary to have complete solutions, it should be clear in your proposal how your technology could be developed for use, either against the exacting standards required for medical practice or in harsh front-line environments.
5. What we don’t want
In this CDE themed competition we don’t want proposals for:
- audiology or screening services
- data handling services
- consultancy on audiology, hearing loss or tinnitus
- demonstrations of existing ‘off-the-shelf’ products
- paper-based studies
- marginal improvements in capability
- solutions that offer no significant benefit to defence
- technology watch or horizon scanning
- roadmaps or technology prediction
We aim to take forward a number of the most successful outputs from phase-1 projects for phase-2 funding. Only bidders funded at phase 1 qualify for entry into phase 2 of this competition where up to an additional £500,000 of funding will be made available. Phase-2 funding will be awarded on a per-project basis.
As a deliverable of the phase-1 project, successful bidders will also be expected to produce a costed plan of recommended future work to be carried out.
It’s anticipated that successful phase-1 projects will be invited to future MOD human capabilities and/or medical sciences stakeholder showcase events, where members of MOD’s wider user community will be able to view and assess benefits of the project and provide/highlight future exploitation paths.
Successfully funded projects in this CDE themed competition, with the assistance of Dstl/MOD technical partners, may be integrated into MOD’s medical sciences research programme.
7. Important information
This competition will be supported by presentations given at the Innovation Network event on Tuesday 9 February 2016.
Your proposal must be received by CDE by 5pm on Thursday 21 April 2016. Proposals must be submitted to CDE online.
We won’t accept proposals over £150,000 and it’s more likely at this stage that a larger number of lower-value proposals (eg £40,000 to £80,000) will be funded than a small number of higher-value proposals. Total funding available for phase 1 of this competition is £500,000.
Proposals should focus on a short, sharp, proof-of-concept phase of 3 to 6 months in duration, with deliverables completed by 31 December 2016.
Proposals should include a descriptive scoping for a longer programme (phase 2 onwards) of any duration, but the proposal should be clearly partitioned with a costed proof-of-concept stage, which is the focus of this CDE themed competition.
Proposals for further work beyond the proof-of-concept stage will only be considered after the proof-of-concept stage has delivered, using the understanding gained to make an informed decision.
Proposals will be assessed by subject matter experts from MOD, Dstl and the Health and Safety Exectutive’s Laboratory (HSL). Read about how your proposal is assessed. Deliverables from contracts will be made available to technical partners and subject to review by UK MOD.
Dstl will be available to provide advice and/or guidance via an appointed technical partner throughout the project and provide the interface with MOD and wider government stakeholder community.
7.1 Ethical considerations
All research involving human participation conducted or sponsored by MOD is subject to ethical review under MOD procedures as outlined in Joint Service Publication 536 ‘Ministry of Defence Policy for Research Involving Human Participants’, irrespective of any separate ethical procedures (eg from universities or other organisations). This ensures that acceptable ethical standards are met, upheld and recorded, adhering to nationally and internationally accepted principles and guidance.
The following definitions explain the areas of research that require approval:
- clinical: conducting research on a human participant, including (but not limited to) administering substances, taking blood or urine samples, removing biological tissue, radiological investigations, or obtaining responses to an imposed stress or experimental situation
- non-clinical: conducting research to collect data on an identifiable individual’s behaviour, either directly or indirectly (such as by questionnaire or observation)
All proposals should declare if there are potential ethical issues.
Securing ethical approval through the MOD process can take up to 3 months. In this CDE themed competition, projects must be completed by 31 December 2016 and obtaining ethical approval could take your proposal beyond the timeline for completion of phase 1. We, therefore, recommend that you only include research in phase 1 that doesn’t require ethical approval. Work that might require ethical approval should be planned for future phases of work which are likely to have longer and more flexible timescales.
However, if you think that your phase-1 proposal may require ethical approval, please ensure that you adopt an approach in your submission as follows (noting that projects must still complete by 31 December 2016):
- milestone 1: gaining ethics approval for the project, including delivery of the research protocols (the protocol will need to be detailed by completing the ethics application form)
- milestone 2: proposed research that will be carried out subject to gaining ethics approval (optional phases to be formally invoked, where appropriate)
A contractual break point should be included after milestone 1.
The requirement for ethical approval isn’t a barrier to funding; proposals are assessed on technical merit and potential for exploitation. Successful proposals will be supported through the ethical review process; however, an outline of your research methods must be included in your proposal to help this process.
|9 February 2016||Competition briefing at Innovation Network event|
|7 March 2016||Webinar|
|21 April 2016||Competition closes at 5pm|
|Mid-June 2016||Contract placement initiated and feedback provided|
|31 December 2016||Latest date for the delivery of phase-1 proof-of-concept research|
|January 2017||Stakeholder demonstration event|
|February 2017||Phase-2 funding decisions made|
9. Queries and help
While you’re preparing your proposals, you can contact us if you have any queries:
Technical queries about this competition should be sent to: email@example.com
Capacity to answer these queries is limited in terms of volume and scope. Queries should be limited to a few simple questions or if provided with a short (few paragraphs) description of your proposal, the technical team will provide, without commitment or prejudice, broad yes/no answers. This query facility is not to be used for extensive technical discussions, detailed review of proposals or supporting the iterative development of ideas. While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, CDE and Dstl reserves the right to impose management controls when higher than average volumes of queries or resource demands restrict fair access to all potential proposal submitters.
General queries should be sent directly to CDE at: firstname.lastname@example.org