The U.K. government is holding two new competitions, with a total of up to $8.1 million in funding, for small businesses who have ideas that can improve the experience for older people at the end of their life or improve the experience for people with mental health illnesses.
The funding is part of the government’s commitment to help improve care for patients with long-term conditions and ensure high quality care and support offered to dying people in their final days and hours.
“We need to find new ways of treating and supporting people with mental illnesses and need to ensure those approaching the end of their life are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best care and support,” said Lord Howe, health minister. “Small businesses play a crucial role in providing creative and innovative solutions to existing problems. That’s why we are supporting them through our [$8.1] million funding to tackle these challenges and make a difference to patient’s lives.”
Mental health illnesses are the single largest cause of disability in the U.K. At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. The government’s “No health without mental health” outcomes strategy highlights the importance of tackling the inequalities that lead to poor mental health but also the unique and varied challenges associated with the illness.
This competition calls for creative ideas and technologies that could mean mental illnesses are diagnosed earlier, better management of the disease with a more tailored approach to care. The other competition focuses on how new technologies can help people have a better experience of end of life care. Ideas could include new technologies that provide greater comfort and help with managing pain.
“The NHS can be proud of the innovation it has introduced into the care of patients across England but we need to get smarter at making it easy for others to adopt. Technologies that can give people a better end of life or improve the management of mental illness could make a real difference to many,” said sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS.
The competitions are part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a cross-government initiative that aims to promote U.K. economic growth whilst addressing public sector needs. Previous SBRI competitions called for technological and innovative solutions to change people’s behavior in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases and solutions to improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed. Contracts have now been awarded to the successful organizations and work is now underway to turn these innovative ideas into commercialization stage and ultimately NHS adoption.
The application process is run through Health Enterprise East, the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England. All applications should be made using the application forms, which can be downloadedfrom www.hee.org.uk.