Leading NHS medtech innovation consultancy Health Enterprise East (HEE) has announced that a further six SMEs will be awarded funding under the MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grant Scheme, bringing the overall value of projects supported by the scheme to over £200,000.
Supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and managed by HEE, the MedTech NAVIGATOR programme will now provide critical funding to Tekihealth Solutions Ltd, NS Innovations Ltd, Flush-Tech, Yourgene Health, Tangi0 and Anidium, all of which are developing ground-breaking technologies to tackle urgent healthcare priorities, ranging from COVID-19 and cancer diagnostics, to cardiology and stroke prevention.
MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grants are designed to foster joint working and easier knowledge transfer between SMEs and eligible knowledge providers, such as NHS Trusts or universities. By facilitating closer collaboration between the two parties, the programme aims to enable a more efficient and seamless product development process that will significantly shorten the time it takes for new medical technologies to get to market.
The Innovation Grant awarded to Tekihealth Solutions Ltd will help fund the development of Teki-Hub, a tele-medicine device aimed at combatting the effects of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable members of society – care home residents. Connected to a lightweight wireless internet router specifically designed for remote clinical assessment, this hand-held modular diagnostic device will help the thousands of UK care home residents struggling to access video healthcare appointments due to poor IT infrastructure and limited Wi-Fi enabled equipment. Tekihealth Solutions is partnering with Connected Nottinghamshire, part of Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust, on its proof-of-concept trial, to demonstrate the life-changing potential that successful remote diagnostic consultations could have.
NS Innovations Ltd’s Innovation Grant will be used to support the development of SoftPower, a rehabilitation device for elderly and partially able individuals whose ability to exercise has either been disproportionately affected by the pandemic or those still suffering from the effects of Long Covid. SoftPower can be used in bed, whilst sitting or standing, and can be configured to deliver asymmetrical resistance to suit the users’ needs, providing a bespoke exercise solution to those with low or limited physical ability to exercise.
Another Innovation Grant has been awarded to Flush-Tech to help fund Flush, a project providing a drastically improved method for reducing dehydration-related illnesses and preventing Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). AKI causes 100,000 deaths per year in England alone, 30% of these are estimated to be avoidable with the right care and treatment. AKI costs the NHS over £500m annually. By monitoring fluid balance automatically, Flush seeks to replace the current laborious, inconsistent, and error-prone approach to hydration management. The MedTech NAVIGATOR grant will enable Flush-Tech to collaborate with a specialist AKI Lead Nurse Practitioner and University Hospitals Southampton to further assess user needs.
The programme is also supporting a cancer care project, in the form of a Grant to Yourgene Health. The funding will go towards the development of its expansive oncology gene panel, which uses a liquid biopsy of tumour DNA circulating in blood to identify mutations in a tumour that can be targeted by an existing therapy. As well as being less invasive than tissue biopsies, this innovative form of testing aims to deliver a more tailored treatment plan for cancer patients, providing more bespoke clinical options for the 367,000 new cases of cancer each year in the UK. Yourgene Health is collaborating with the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to conduct a market research assessment, identifying customer needs and suitable clinically relevant (tumour) targets.
In the field of stroke prevention, a MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grant is being awarded to Tangi0 to help fund an urgently designed virtual reality (VR) based mirror therapy application using etee with the potential to dramatically improve outcomes in post-stroke patients. Rehabilitation is critical for helping the ~40% of stroke survivors left with some degree of functional impairment, yet traditional mirror therapy has reduced effectiveness in lower extremity rehabilitation compared to upper limb. Collaborating with an expert from the University of South Wales, Tangi0 aims to harness next-generation VR technology to remove these limitations, transforming the clinical options available to post-stroke patients.
Finally, Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cause of an irregular heartbeat and a leading cause of stroke. Public Health England estimates that early detection and treatment of AF can avert one stroke in every 25 patients which can prevent 14,220 strokes within 3 years and save up to £241.6 million in England alone. It is estimated that 1.4M people have AF in England, of which 30% remain undiagnosed. Anidium Limited are developing YoHeartTM, a novel remote ECG solution and will use its Innovation Grant to support an observational study to provide the first data in patients using YoHeartTM. It will be conducted with the help of leading cardiologists at the Royal Papworth NHS Foundation Trust and managed by Papworth Trials Unit Collaboration.
This phase of the scheme’s funding stands at £160,000, with each Innovation Grant worth up to 50 per cent of the total project costs (capped at £7,500). The next phase of grants from the total funding allocation of £300,000 will be announced in the coming months, each one supporting SMEs during early product development to encourage further innovation in areas of unmet need.
Commenting on the news, Joop Tanis, Director of MedTech Consulting at HEE, said:
“The early phases of medtech product development can be precarious, which is why tapping into the expertise available from both clinical and research settings is so important. Not only do these six winning innovations offer much-needed solutions to some of the most pressing areas of care, they also serve as a beacon of inspiration to other would-be innovators, by demonstrating that with a collaborative approach, clever ideas can indeed become a reality. We’re excited to see these award-winners embark on the next stage of their development journeys and can’t wait to continue to work with them as their products evolve.”
Details on the wider MedTech NAVIGATOR programme and Innovation Grants, including eligibility, funding and outcome expectations, can be found at www.medtechnavigator/funding.
News & Analysis