SBRI Healthcare has awarded over £5.56 million in funding to six pioneering medtech innovations in the fields of mental health and surgery. The funding will be used to fast-track these technologies through the next stages of commercialisation, including the development of prototypes or demonstration units.
The winning projects include cutting-edge innovations, such as augmented reality training simulators for surgeons, a video game based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and a peer-to-peer digital platform that promotes emotional and mental wellbeing.
All six projects were identified through a SBRI Healthcare nationwide competition that called for innovative technologies designed to solve existing problems in mental health and surgery specifically. It is reported that one in four adults in the UK will experience symptoms of poor mental health each year, and that the wider economic costs of mental illness in England are estimated to be more than £105 billion a year. At the same time, increasing pressures on surgical services, with regards to the cost of delivering treatments and patient waiting times, mean that the need for more efficient solutions has never been greater.
These projects were initially identified for phase one funding in 2018, including proof-of-concept testing, and will now benefit from a second round of funding to demonstrate both technical and commercially viability.
Dr Keri Torney, deputy director of life sciences, strategy and innovation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said:
“The NHS Long Term Plan reaffirms our commitment to improving mental health care and to speeding up the process of getting new innovations to patients. We are delighted to support these innovative technologies that aim to improve outcomes in mental health and surgery.”
Dr Seamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the AHSN NENC and Chair of the AHSN Network nationally, added:
“We are excited to be working with a clutch of truly innovative technologies that have the potential to tackle these very specific needs head-on. The challenge now is to support them through the next development phase to ensure these innovations can be successfully commercialised and can bring benefits to patients throughout the UK, as quickly as possible.”
Through a regular series of competitions, SBRI Healthcare identifies, co-creates and supports businesses through early stage development of unique health technologies that can solve unmet healthcare challenges. The projects benefiting from this latest round of funding are detailed below.
Funding was awarded to the following projects:
Mayden – awarded £999,865: Mayden will develop ‘SAPIO’ technology to Streamline Assessment Pathways and Improve Outcomes in NHS psychological therapy (‘IAPT’) services. Patients will be able to self-administer a standardised online assessment which in turn will generate personalised treatment insights through the application of machine learning techniques to assessment responses. This constitutes a total redesign of the referral-to-treatment segment of the IAPT care pathway using digital and data analytics technologies. SAPIO will improve the patient’s experience of service access and assessment, whilst patients and the NHS will benefit from improved recovery rates and efficiencies from early and accurate identification of most appropriate treatments.
Udamo – awarded £997,871: Automated Cognitive Restructuring (CR) therapy that is accessible to patients through an app. This digital platform will be the first time that CR therapeutic content is available to users without the involvement of a human therapist.
XenZone – awarded £977,170: A digital peer support platform for young people aged between 11-25-years that aims to improve emotional and mental health wellbeing. The platform uses real-life experiences alongside the Kooth Peer Support Programme (KPSP) to provide young people with skills to interact with peers and to help with their own self development.
BfB Labs – awarded £964,308: Gaming technology that helps improve access to and effectiveness of current frontline cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatments for children. Through gamification, the technology helps users increase adherence to therapy and manage anxiety.
Inovus – awarded £998,850: Inovus designs and manufactures surgical and medical simulation equipment specifically for the field of laparoscopic surgery and advanced life support. Inovus’ simulation equipment aims to improve access to high quality, affordable and versatile healthcare training equipment across the globe.
3D Metal Printing – awarded £625,781: The TOKA® Surgical Box uses virtual data imaging, and 3D printing technologies to train surgeons in High Tibial Osteotomy surgery. The technology allows users to plan and perform virtual patient-specific procedures.