The SBRI programme is based on taking a two-phased development approach, projects start with initial feasibility and can then move on to more detailed product development. Phase 1 contracts for feasibility testing are valued at up to £100,000 and last for six months. Phase 2 contracts for prototype development are worth up to £1 million over two years. While the public sector has the right to license the resultant technology, its intellectual property (IP) remains with the company.
Launched in 2009, NHS East and NHS Midlands were the first regional health authority to develop an Small Business Research Initiatives scheme (SBRI) to find solutions for identified healthcare problems.
Going forward SBRI East worked to bring together business, health, technology and government partners to deliver a series of competitions for businesses to address major unmet health needs.
Unlike many Research and Development projects which offer grant or match funding, SBRI contracts are 100 per cent funded and the inventor retains the Intellectual Property.
As part of Innovation Health and Wealth, the SBRI Healthcare programme sets industry the challenge in a series of health related competitions which resulted in fully funded development contracts between the awarded company and the NHS.
The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare is an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) led programme for NHS England, delivering the Innovation Health and Wealth agenda:
- The initiative supports a programme of competitions inviting companies to come forward with their ideas and new technologies for known NHS challenges
- These ideas are assessed and a fully funded development contract is agreed between the company and the NHS. SBRI Healthcare monitors the contract – where the NHS is the lead customer
- The SBRI Healthcare programme has two primary-phases that start with an initial identification of unmet need, undertaken by clinicians. Challenges are offered to industry to test the feasibility of their ideas and these projects, if successful, can result in a contract to develop the product
- SBRI Healthcare is a fast track, simplified process that enables the NHS to work with industry to tackle known challenges
- Targeted at SMEs and early stage businesses it gives vital funding for a critical stage of product development
- While the public sector has the right to license the subsequent technology, its intellectual property (IP) remains with the company enabling growth and wealth creation for the UK economy
- Academic Health Science Networks ensure that clinicians specify the challenges whilst making sure the products meet frontline needs
Since 2008 the NHS has backed the SBRI programme, supporting over 100 companies to develop innovative technologies that match the needs of the health service. A handful of these are now selling into global markets and delivering innovation to the healthcare community. Previous SBRI Healthcare competitions have called for technological and innovative solutions to, for example, change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases, how to live well with dementia and improved medicine management.