Health Innovation Funding Opportunities

The latest funding opportunities and grants for innovation in healthcare.

We update this page monthly so check back for the latest opportunities or subscribe to our newsletter for updates.

Featured health innovation funding opportunities:

UK – Israel Eureka Bilateral: Collaborative R&D. Deadline: 28 September 2022
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is investing up to £2 million to fund collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects focused on industrial research with Israel.

General health innovation funding opportunities:

SBRI HEALTHCARE:
SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England & NHS Improvement initiative, supported by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and managed by LGC Group. We aim to promote UK economic growth whilst addressing unmet health needs and enhancing the take up of known best practice.

Innovate UK:
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BIOTECHNOLOGICAL AND BOLOGICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, is a non-departmental public body, and is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience. It predominantly funds scientific research institutes and university research departments in the UK.

BBSRC standard research grant. Deadline: Open call

You can apply for research grants at any time in any area within the remit of BBSRC. BBSRC funds research in plants, microbes, animals (including humans), and the tools and technology underpinning biological research from the level of molecules and cells, to tissues, whole organisms, populations and landscapes.

DEFENCE AND SECURITY ACCELERATOR (DASA)

DASA aims to find and fund exploitable innovation to support UK defence and security quickly and effectively, and support UK prosperity.

Open Competition Applications: Open call
The Open Call is one of the funding competition mechanisms DASA uses to find proposals that address challenges faced by government stakeholders. It gives bidders the opportunity to present their ideas to defence and security stakeholders at any time, without waiting for a relevant Themed Competition.

Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF) – Open call
This fund is to support businesses investing in life sciences manufacturing projects in the UK.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH RESEARCH
The nation’s largest funder of health and care research, providing the people, facilities and technology for research to thrive.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (ESRC)

ESRC Research Grant Applications: Open call
If you have an excellent idea for a research project, the ESRC have their Research Grants open call. Awards ranging from £350,000 to £1 million (100 per cent full Economic Cost (fEC)) can be made to eligible institutions to enable individuals or research teams to undertake anything from a standard research project through to a large-scale survey and other infrastructure or methodological development.

ENGINEERING AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC):

The EPSRC is the main funding body for engineering and physical research sciences. For EPSRC funding opportunities.

Trusts and Charities

The Health Foundation (HF)
HF’s aim is a healthier population, supported by high quality health care that can be equitably accessed. HF learns what works to make people’s lives healthier and improve the health care system. From giving grants to those working at the front line to carrying out research and policy analysis, they shine a light on how to make successful change happen.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF)
BHF provide personal support for clinical and non-clinical cardiovascular researchers at all stages of their career. They also provide grants for short and long term research projects, essential infrastructure and strategic initiatives.

Association of Medical Research Charities
Over 30 years ago a small, diverse group of medical research charities form the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) to unite the sector and provide it with a leading voice. Since then their membership has grown to over 140 charities. In 2018, these charities invested £1.3 billion in medical research.

Other UK Government, Seed Funds & Loans

The British Business Bank (BBB) Applications: Open

BBB are a government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. Whether you’re looking for finance to start a business, grow to the next level, or stay ahead of the competition, they say that they can deliver greater volume and choice of finance.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funding. General ‘collection’ of news and funds

Information about SBRI for businesses and public sector organisations that might want to use the scheme.

UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund Applications: Open

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (formerly known as The Rainbow Seed Fund) is a £27.1m early-stage venture capital fund building and growing technology companies stemming from the UK’s research base.

Creative England Investments Applications: Open

Creative England is supporting SMEs by providing competitive loans to digital businesses in order to make their growth plans a reality. The investments on offer are intended to fuel this fast-growing sector by financing business expansion and new products, leading to the creation of new high-quality jobs and Intellectual Property (IP). Loans from £50,000 – £250,000 are available with repayment terms ranging from 3-36 months. Interest rates range from 5% – 10%, depending on the risk profile of the applicant. This includes companies from within the digital healthcare sector.

HSBC Loan Fund Deadline: Open

HSBC UK has announced a £14 billion lending fund to support the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Fund includes a ring-fenced £1 billion to help UK companies grow their business overseas, as well as a broader package of support. The initiative is available to UK businesses with a turnover of up to £350 million. Applicants do not need to be an HSBC customer to apply.

International Grants

Global Innovation Fund Applications: Open
GIF focuses on solutions that have the potential to address an important development problem more effectively than existing approaches, can come from anyone, anywhere. 
They seek out innovations they believe have the greatest potential to improve the lives of millions of people living in poverty.

The EIC Accelerator: Open Competition (Grants only)
The EIC Accelerator supports individual Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in particular Startups and spinout companies to develop and scaleup game-changing innovations. 

Other international funds of interest:

The Global Challenges Research Fund
The Newton Fund
Grants available to UK through US Defense – medical research program

Top Tips for innovators

Top Tips for Innovators

Got a great innovation that could radicalise the health care system but overwhelmed by the complexity of the NHS? Lesley Soden, Head of Innovation gives her top tips on how to build relationships with NHS and local authority contacts so you can get your innovation successfully implemented.

With Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s increased focus on the advancements of digital and technological solutions for the NHS, the market for health innovations is booming. Whilst it is an exciting time for health tech, for innovators themselves it makes for a crowded marketplace. In addition to the competition you face, you are also expected to navigate the complex landscape of the NHS.

Getting your innovation adopted in the NHS sphere can feel like opening a sticky door that requires the hinges to be oiled continuously. At the Health Innovation Network, we are approached by about 3-4 innovators every week looking for advice and support with getting their innovation bought by the NHS. Whilst every innovation requires different proof-points, we have learnt a number of lessons through our experience of improving the take-up of the Innovation and Technology Payment products across South London, and developed some key steps that all innovators can follow to increase their chances of getting their innovation, product or service adopted.

Target the right people

Having an engagement plan to target the right people at the right time, will stop you wasting yours. For example, if the innovation helps with managing referrals more effectively then a General Manager or Operational Director will be your target audience. If your innovation addresses a patient safety issue, then the Medical Director of Director of Nursing will be the decision-maker you need to approach. Work out which part of the system your innovation will save them money and then work out who is in charge of spending for that department.

Tip: if your innovation has the potential to save money for an NHS provider don’t target commissioners. Also, Trusts often have transformation teams who could help with getting your innovation adopted if there is evidence that it will improve patient care.

Tailor your message

In general, all NHS Trusts or Clinical Commissioning Groups will have the same system pressures as everyone else. These could be A&E waiting times, or the increasing demand caused by more patients having more complex conditions. However, individual decision-makers will have different priorities that concern them on a daily basis. To make sure your message is getting heard you should tailor it to the specific pressures or problems that your innovation could help them with.  For example, the Director of Nursing will probably be concerned with their nursing vacancies and agency costs, or patient safety while the Director of Finance and Performance’s priority is more likely to be addressing long waiting lists, or meeting their savings target.

Tip: trust board reports and Clinical Commissioning Group board reports are all published via their website; by scanning these board papers you can identify their specific issues and make it clear that your innovation solves their problems.

Get clinician approval first

Don’t even think about approaching any director or commissioner if you don’t have sufficient clinician buy-in. After all, they are the people who will be using your innovation on day-to-day and will need to be convinced of its value if you want it to get implemented properly. Approach the clinical teams to highlight the clinical and patient benefits of your innovation, and test their interest, before trying to get it bought for their hospital.

Tip: you are more likely to have an impact with this audience if you show that you’ve done some research. Do the testing, build up an evidence-base and then make your approach.

Learn about procurement

Don’t underestimate the potential for procurement processes to slow down or even stall getting your innovation into the NHS. Procurement is often a lengthy process in trusts, (for very good reason given it is taxpayer money that is being spent) the complexities of which need to be understood and respected.

Tip: engage with procurement teams to understand the process for buying your innovation, so you can don’t delay getting the sign-off for your innovation being adopted.

Refine your pitch

Contrary to popular belief, products generally aren’t so good they sell themselves. I hear 2-3 pitches a week from individuals with a health innovation and the majority of them fall down at the same hurdles. Firstly, don’t start your pitch with the generalist tabloid problems with the NHS. An NHS manager hearing for the third time that week that the NHS has no money and national targets are consistently not being met they will disengage. Instead, touch upon the challenge that your innovation will solve and then give detail on how your innovation is the solution. And the devil is in the detail. All too often pitches include vague statements about an innovation rather than actual detail. The best pitches are those that give overview of the innovation, clinical evidence, quantify return on investment and give an example of past or current implementation within the NHS. Spell out the real benefits using robust data and evidence, but don’t promise you can solve all their problems if you don’t have the proof.

Tip: return on investment is extremely important to highlight early on in your pitch. For example, one company recently included the fact that a different maternity unit had commissioned their online platform because it would save them money on public liability insurance. This type of evidence is impressive, clear and makes it easy to forecast the exact numbers by which your product will make them clear savings. This will always grab people’s attention.

Show how your innovation works

This sounds simple – and it is. People don’t just want to hear about how a product works, they want to see it and even try it out where possible. If it’s a medical device, make sure you bring it with you. Or if it’s a digital solution, do a short demo to help people to visualise your innovation.

Tip: have a quick pitch on your product ready and ensure that it clearly explains how your product works. Practise a 60 second pitch for meeting potential customers on an ad-hoc basis at networking events.

Be persistent, but polite

It’s unlikely that the first email you send will result in a bulk order of your product. It’s probably unlikely it will even result in a meeting. But that doesn’t mean you should stop knocking on doors. ‘No replies’ are not the same as rejection. And rejection can sometimes be ‘not now’ rather than a straight ‘no’. If you believe your product can transform the health care system for the better, then there’s a good chance you can convince someone else of that too.

Tip: don’t assume the worst in people when they don’t respond. Your target audience are busy and overwhelmed by pitches. Maintaining your professionalism and manners at all times will always go further to getting an answer than aggressive chasing.

As I said, getting your innovation adopted in the NHS can feel like opening a sticky door that requires the hinges to be oiled continuously. If you take a hammer to it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to repair the damage caused to relationships in the future.

Lesley Soden is the Head of Innovation within the Health Innovation Network. She has over 20 years experience in the NHS and public sector. She has worked in senior business and strategy roles in mental health and community NHS Trusts involving programme management, business development, bid writing and service re-design, all delivered in collaborations with a variety of public and private health partners.

For more information on how we work with innovators, visit our Innovation Exchange page or read about our funding opportunities here.

A new funding settlement needs to put the NHS in everyone’s pocket

A new funding settlement needs to put the NHS in everyone’s pocket

Smart use of funding can help people to benefit from digital innovations in health and care, writes Tara Donnelly

Talk of a new financial settlement for the NHS has reached fever pitch. The alluring symbolism of additional money as a “birthday present” will be difficult for politicians to resist. For staff working flat out, additional money couldn’t come sooner.

But the most important question isn’t how much, it’s what we do with it. Spending to sustain an increasingly archaic way of working must be swept swiftly off the negotiating table. New money must be used to unleash digital change. When we bank, travel, order food – we do it digitally.

When we interact with the NHS, we rarely do. The innovations set to disrupt the NHS exist, many of them created by clinical staff who could clearly see a better way. We just don’t yet use them at scale.

Care for long term conditions is a great example of the potential for change, with the NHS spending 70 per cent of its budget here. On diabetes alone, the NHS spends £14 billion a year, £1.5 million every hour. The vast majority of this is not on preventative care that will reap future benefits, it is spent mopping up the complications of uncontrolled illness.

There are strong preventative digital solutions and many that support better self-care. Systematically implementing those with the strongest evidence base, even just across five conditions where the most mature solutions exist – diabetes, prediabetes, COPD, cardiac rehab and asthma – would have a phenomenal impact.

There are also brilliant, cheap devices now that combine with smartphones to enable sophisticated home self-care and remote monitoring: blood pressure cuffs, mobile ECGs, home urine testing, peak flows, smart inhalers. These and other digital therapeutics work best when there is a partnership between the patient, their GP and where necessary a team of specialist clinicians or coaches supervising results, coaching and encouraging.

The results are powerful – weight loss, blood glucose stability, increased activity, better adherence to medicine, improved self-care, and savings in the longer term to the NHS, thanks to fewer complications.

Trusts tell us they don’t want to just digitise their outpatient processes – they want to transform them. Academic Health Science Networks are supporting a number of trusts to introduce video, phone and email consultations, make services one-stop to avoid unnecessary visits and communicate results in new ways. Their take on the barriers is fascinating. Patients aren’t the problem, they’re often keen and demanding new models.

It’s not clinician resistance either; busy clinicians can see that the digital solutions they use in their daily lives will free up time to care for patients who need them most. It’s money.

Both the perverse disincentives to digital, with examples of trusts being paid £27 instead of around £200 for a visit, and the lack of funding available for staff to take the time to implement something new. Great solutions exist to book and change appointments via smartphones too, these need to quickly become the default not the exception.

Not all parts of the population can access digital solutions, but that’s not the same as saying that they couldn’t benefit if access was improved

Not all parts of the population can access digital solutions. But that’s not the same as saying that they couldn’t benefit, if access was improved. There’s good evidence that digitally excluded groups, including the homeless and parts of the prison population, could radically improve their health with a smartphone or telemedicine.

Charities like Pathway are already giving cheap smartphones with £10 credit to homeless patients on discharge from hospital and using the devices to support with mental health and addiction through remote cognitive behavioural therapy. The success rate is impressive.

Consider that homeless people’s NHS care is typically eight times the cost of that of homed people a year (£1.5 billion a year according to the Centre for Equity Studies) and maths is clear.

We know that putting the NHS in people’s pocket works. How can we use additional funding to make it a reality?

Scale up digital therapeutics where the evidence is strongest and commit to truly digital outpatients. Create a digital innovation fund to give NHS organisations the investment they need to look beyond the day-to-day and make this a reality. Remove perverse barriers and the disruptive power of new technologies will help with the rest.

Be bolder with devices to make sure those who need it most can also benefit from a real digital health revolution. Explore offering these through personal health budgets, or partnering with the private sector to give these out as an inspired NHS birthday present.

Revolutionise the recycling of smartphones so that they end up in the hands of the homeless and other digitally excluded groups.

Unlock real patient power. The sooner we can get securely held patient records and results into the hands of activated patients the better.

Create a digital innovation fund to give NHS organisations the investment they need to look beyond the day-to-day and make this a reality

Invest more in projects that make use of artificial intelligence, now. There have been considerable advances in cognitive medical imaging and AI research but we are yet to see any real world application with patients in the English NHS. The fund could support those trusts who have a very specific use case.

We must be mindful, too, as we go on this journey that the gap between the best and the rest narrows, rather than increases. This means support for parts of the system that are struggling with digital, as well as the incentives we have for exemplar sites.

Across the NHS we have great, innovative staff. Across the country we have people who could benefit from the best digital innovations in health and care. The solutions are out there. Smart use of new funding can make it happen.