Five projects seeking to improve cancer care in Scotland have won a share of £325,000 funding from the first round of the Cancer Innovation Challenge.

The challenge, which was launched by the Scottish Government’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, earlier this year, received more than 90 notes of interest resulting in 30-plus applications from organisations across Europe.

The first funding round is specifically seeking innovative technology approaches to recording and integrating ‘Patient Reported Outcome Measures’ (PROMs) and ‘Patient Reported Experience Measures’ (PREMs) with a view to improving cancer patient care.

All five projects have the potential to have a significant impact on cancer care in Scotland; they now have the funding and the opportunity to develop and demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of their innovation over the next three months.

Two of the five will then be selected to continue to the next stage of the Cancer Innovation Challenge process which will see them receive further funding to develop prototypes over a six month period.

The organisations behind the projects range from established medical technology specialists to start-ups. Scottish companies based in Elgin and the Isle of Skye are represented as well as three companies from England, including one collaborating with Strathclyde University.

The solution proposed by one of the projects focuses on young adults and teenagers with cancer while the rest have the potential for use by any cancer patient.

Unlocking real opportunities

Peter Hall is a medical oncologist and senior clinical lecturer at Edinburgh University and is the clinical lead for this part of the Cancer Innovation Challenge.

“Being able to measure how cancer and its treatment is affecting patients from their own perspective will unlock real opportunities for patient-centred care,” he said.

“Insights range from an ability to monitor patient satisfaction across a whole service to enabling alerts when an individual patient reports a high risk treatment side effect, allowing early preventative management.

“We’ve had a great response to the call for applications to this first stage of the Cancer Innovation Challenge with applications from as far afield as Spain.  The five successful projects demonstrated really strong possibilities for revolutionising cancer care in this country. We are excited to see how each of them develops during this stage of the process.”

Cancer Innovation Challenge driving collaboration

Stuart Fancey, director of research and innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, added: “Combining the different areas of expertise in the three innovation centres, the NHS and industry, the Cancer Innovation Challenge is driving collaboration and helping Scotland to become a world leading carer for people with cancer.”

The challenge aims to inspire novel data and tech innovations to help Scotland become a world leader in cancer care. It is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and delivered by three Scottish innovation centres – led by The Data Lab and supported by the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) and Stratified Medicine Scotland (SMS).

It has also just launched its second funding call to seek innovative data science solutions to improve cancer care and outcomes in Scotland. Up to £425,000 is available to support and develop innovative projects that use existing NHS Scotland data to improve cancer outcomes in Scotland. The registration deadline is 27 October and the application deadline is 10 November 2017.