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SBRI Healthcare awards £2.5 million to accelerate innovations that narrow health inequalities in maternity care

31 January 2024

SBRI Healthcare, an Accelerated Access Collaborative initiative, in partnership with the Health Innovation Network, has awarded £2.5m for the progression of five innovations that help narrow inequalities in maternity care.

While the UK is among one of the safest places to give birth, maternity care is impacted by health inequalities.

Black and Asian women are more likely to die during pregnancy, and childbirth and poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth, foetal growth restriction, and stillbirth, disproportionately affect Black and Asian women from the most socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

1 in 4 women experience mental health difficulties during, or in the 24 months following pregnancy, and maternal mental health challenges are associated with both large and lasting personal and societal costs.

Progress has been made through the NHS Long Term Plan, the Maternity Transformation Programme, and the Core20PLUS5 initiative, and SBRI Healthcare launched Competition 20 - Health Inequalities in Maternity Care in May 2022.

In consultation with clinicians, nurses, midwives, and other stakeholders working in the provision of care across the maternity care spectrum, innovations were sought focusing on perinatal mental health, risk identification, stratification, intervention, and support for women post-discharge.

Phase 1 projects were awarded six-month funding to demonstrate technical and commercial viability, and this second phase of the competition enables 12 months of development and prototype evaluation prior to real-world implementation.

Professor Wendy Tindale (Panel Chair), Director, NIHR Devices for Dignity MIC; Scientific & Innovation Director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said:

“The SBRI Healthcare awards are another step forward in helping the NHS deliver its Long Term Plan commitments for maternity care. All the projects we assessed were of a very high standard and this next phase of funding will be used to develop and evaluate prototypes, and build evidence for future uptake and scale. Crucially these innovations help tackle health inequalities in maternity care and support the national NHS England Core20PLUS5 approach. I look forward to seeing them progress to benefit parents and their families across the UK.”

Verena Stocker, Interim Director of Innovation, Research, Life Sciences and Strategy, NHS England and Chief Executive Office, Accelerated Access Collaborative, said:

“The SBRI Healthcare awards help the NHS to develop new technologies and solutions to address some of the biggest healthcare challenges facing society. We have selected these innovations because they have the potential to make a big difference to patients by helping to reduce healthcare inequalities in those communities most affected. By supporting the most promising innovations the NHS will continue to evolve, helping to meet more patients’ needs and encouraging more innovators to come forward with innovative ideas that benefit all.”

The SBRI Healthcare Competition 20 – Health Inequalities in Maternity care, Phase 2 awarded projects are:

Latchaid Ltd - awarded £500,000 - Anya - a smart, scalable, and accessible solution for antenatal and postnatal support to address health inequality in maternity care

The Anya app leverages cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence, 3D interactive technology, and leading healthcare specialists to provide personalised information/education, communities, and 24/7 support in one place, from conception to toddlerhood for 1001 days.

Damibu - awarded £499,988 - Research on ‘hyper-localisation’ of digital health information to address Maternal Health Inequalities as experienced by different localities and cultures

Damibu Feeds helps NHS organisations save time in creating and distributing content, reliably and accurately. In a fast-changing digital world, Damibu Feeds enables NHS organisations to deliver validated, trusted information. This project adds innovative features to create, manage, validate and deliver 'content variations' for language and cultural needs.

2SN Healthcare Ltd - awarded £499,050 – JANAMAPP

JANAMAPP is a culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate, evidence-based information app for South Asian mothers throughout their pregnancy and post-natal journey. The app is available to download on Android and iOS and accessible to patients through their NHS midwife/ clinician team.

First 4 Health Group - awarded £500,000 - Impact Evaluation of a novel data-driven maternity service within the Stratford Primary Care Network

A data-driven maternity service in GP surgeries, that utilises a maternal psychosocial risk identification tool - MpRisk - developed by Ellescope, to proactively flag up women at-risk across preconception, pregnancy & post-birth, enabling care pathway personalisation to ultimately reduce adverse perinatal outcomes.

The Real Birth Company Limited - awarded £495,154 - The implementation, evaluation and development of The Real Birth Digital Programme, creating hyper-personalised childbirth information tailored for marginalised groups

The RealBirth™ Digital Workshop will support enhanced birth preparation information by creating a personalised application, adapting to individual healthcare needs for improved access. It will promote equitable access by being available in audible multilingual guides and British Sign Language.

About SBRI Healthcare
SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) Healthcare provides funding and support to innovators to develop solutions that tackle existing unmet needs faced by the NHS. The programme aims to improve patient care, increase efficiency in the NHS, and support the UK economy. The programme provides funding and support to early-stage projects enabling testing for business feasibility and technology development, as well as to more mature products to support real world implementation studies. SBRI Healthcare is funded by the Accelerated Access Collaborative and delivered in partnership with the Health Innovation Network.

About the Accelerated Access Collaborative
The Accelerated Access Collaborative is a unique partnership between patient groups, government bodies, industry and the NHS. It delivers ambitious programmes to ensure the NHS is in the best place to improve patient outcomes and reduce health inequalities through research and innovation. It does this by identifying the best new medicines, medical devices, diagnostics and digital products. It supports providers and integrated care systems to make them available to patients as quickly as possible. In addition, the AAC supports increasing participation in research and access to research trials. Over 1.6 million patients have benefited from its programmes to date, helping patients spend over 278,000 fewer days in hospital and saving the NHS over £185 million.

About the Health Innovation Network
There are 15 health innovation networks across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth. Each health innovation network works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region. As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, health innovation networks are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.


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