The UK Government has announced new funding of up to £86m for firms to develop medical breakthroughs and get them from the lab to patients faster. The financial support will allow SMEs to develop and test ideas in the NHS, including digital technologies to help patients manage their conditions from home instead of a hospital.
The announcement is the first step in taking forward the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) – an independently chaired review, which made recommendations to government on speeding up patient access to new technologies.
Technologies that have previously received support are already bringing benefits to patients. For example, MyCOPD is an online system that helps people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease better manage their condition. It has helped over 32,000 patients by helping them improve their breathing, manage flare-ups and track medicine use. This reduces reliance on GP and hospital appointments.
UK Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “The government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible. That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – like speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs. Our investment in innovation shows how much we value the UK life sciences sector.”
The funding covers four areas:
- £39m to the Academic Health Science Networks (ASHNs), enabling them to assess the benefits of new technologies and support NHS uptake of those that deliver real benefits to patients according to the local need
- £35m for the Digital Health Technology Catalyst for innovators – this will match-fund the development of digital technologies for use by patients and the NHS
- up to £6m over the next three years to help SMEs with innovative medicines and devices get the evidence they need by testing in the real world, building on existing opportunities such as the Early Access to Medicine Scheme;
- £6m for the Pathway Transformation Fund, which will help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into everyday practices – this will help overcome more practical obstacles such as training staff on how to use new equipment.
Ben Moody, head of health and social care at techUK, said: “The UK is a world leader in health tech but we must not be complacent. The Digital Health Technology Catalyst will be a great boost for innovators in the sector. The announcement also recognises that the resources needed to generate evidence to show that a technology is worth reimbursing can be prohibitively difficult for SMEs – so the fund to support evidence generation for innovative devices is particularly welcome.”