Government launches £5m digital health fund for UK SMEs

Innovate UK will support projects in areas such as AI and virtual reality

The government has launched a £5m fund to support digital health projects led by UK SMEs.

The money will be dished out via a contest run by government innovation agency Innovate UK. The competition will be supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which will provide successful applicants with support via its data-advisory unit DataLab.

The government is seeking proposals for projects that “do one or more of the following: improve health and wellbeing; transform care to improve quality; [and] control costs and enable change”.

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The fund will be used to support projects lasting up to 18 months and expected to cost between £300,000 and £1m. Businesses can apply to receive up to 70% of their costs.

The government indicated that it wants to hear from firms with expertise in technologies such as “virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet of things, and data analytics and security”.

“Ideas could be for use in a clinical or non-clinical setting,” it added. “This could include digital technologies to: support clinical decision-making; improve access to healthcare, support treatment compliance or patient-led management; improve the patient experience from disease prevention through to diagnosis, treatment, recovery and long-term care; overcome privacy challenges with managing, sharing and exploiting data; and create significant improvements in quality, speed, costs and outcomes”.

Applications will be open from 11 February until midday on 10 April. Successful bidders must commence their projects by 1 October, and complete them by 1 March 2021.

Sam Trendall

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