With a constant spotlight on the NHS and a need to drive both cost and quality improvements to manage increasing demand, we continue to face calls to do more with less. However despite current limitations, what the NHS does have in bucket loads, are exceptionally dedicated clinicians, fully fledged or still in training, with bright ideas and huge potential to be more innovative. With no shortage of innovation or market need, the challenge is to develop an environment that encourages creative thinking and provides a framework of support to maximise the potential for success when it comes to turning bright ideas into new life enhancing technologies and service efficiency opportunities.
With this in mind, the Medtech Accelerator is a new £1.5 million proof of concept awards scheme launched to support and finance early stage medtech innovation developed within the NHS. Recognising the current lack of funding for early stage proof of principle work, individual awards of up to £125,000 are on offer to innovation projects in the broad area of medical technology (devices, diagnostics, software and eHealth) that meet unmet clinical needs and have the potential to create future spin-out companies out of the NHS.
Led by Health Enterprise East (HEE), a leading NHS innovation hub, and supported by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and two local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), the scheme is the first of its kind that brings together local authority, business and the NHS to invest in medtech. The programme has been launched in the East of England but aspires to expands its reach across the NHS in the near future. The Medtech Accelerator operates an open call for applications, with the outcome from the first call to be announced very shortly, with the second call accepting applications up until Friday 12th May 2017.
HEE has a 12 year strong track record of commercialising innovation out of the NHS and receives around 200 innovation disclosures a year from NHS staff and has successfully spun out two portfolio companies that are bringing NHS innovation to market: Northwood Medical Innovation and Ablatus Therapeutics.
Northwood Medical Innovation developed EarFold™, a pioneering implant technology as an alternative to conventional otoplasty surgery in the correction of prominent ears that originated out of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The technology received a CE mark in April 2015 and generated sales in four countries prior to Northwood Medical Innovation being acquired by global pharma, Allergan plc in October 2015.Ablatus Therapeutics was founded to develop and commercialise a novel bimodal electric tissue ablation (BETA) technology to treat the most challenging, and often inoperable, solid cancer tumours. The company was spun out of Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where the technology originated, with a £500,000 angel investment round in July 2016. The technology is currently under development on its journey towards regulatory approval and market launch.
The Medtech Accelerator aims to provide early stage financial support to other technologies like EarFold and BETA that have originated within the NHS and deliver these new and exciting technologies to market and into the hands of clinicians and patients alike.