Health Enterprise East (HEE), the leading NHS innovation hub, is calling on regional businesses to donate to Innovate Now, a new fundraising initiative that supports the NHS and social care, paving the way for a safe and swift return to routine services as the acute phase of the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
Innovate Now will fund the rapid research and development of innovative devices, diagnostics and apps that will help the NHS tackle the current backlog of consultations, screenings and surgeries while implementing new safeguarding measures for patients and front-line staff.
Over the past few months, the NHS has confirmed its ability to innovate and overcome barriers whilst providing world-class care. During this time, the focus has rightly been on solving the immediate problems created by the pandemic. Although routine services are now beginning to re-start, the capacity and delivery of care will continue to be affected by the introduction of new safety and social distancing measures.
To help build capacity, HEE is asking businesses for suggested donations of between £1,000-£5,000 for Innovate Now, with all money raised going directly towards helping the NHS. While traditionally development of new medical technology products and services takes 3-5 years, with the support of businesses, and HEE’s project management expertise, the funds raised will fast-track development, meaning that innovations can reach the NHS and patients’ bedsides in as little as 3 to 6 months.
Working with its 20 strong network of NHS organisations across the East of England, London and the South Coast, HEE will identify key priorities and allocate funds accordingly, catalysing multiple projects. NHS partners have already highlighted the need for urgent support in aspects including managing outpatients remotely, reducing risk of contamination during surgery, patient self-monitoring and mental health support for those with long-term symptoms. This needs-based approach means that solutions can be delivered with relatively modest funds and in incredibly short timeframes.
Mr Andrew Hindmarsh, Consultant Oesophagogastric Surgeon at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“It’s clear that innovation is going to be critical as we re-start routine services in the NHS. We need to develop new technologies in much shorter timeframes than has traditionally been the case which is why a rapid turnaround funding scheme such as this will make such a difference. These funds will enable us to take an idea and swiftly develop it to a point where we can start to engage commercial partners.”
Dr Anne Blackwood, CEO of HEE, commented:
“Since the start of the crisis, we have received repeated requests to expedite access to new medical technologies to support the NHS as it shifts from acute to routine care. Raising these funds will allow us to address urgent unmet needs and enable the NHS to make a more seamless transition back to full capacity while adhering to new safety requirements.
“We appreciate that for many businesses times are difficult and resources precious, but those who are in a position to support Innovate Now should know that every penny they can spare will go directly towards research and development of innovations to help the NHS and ultimately, patients. Innovate Now aims to play a part in ensuring that services ranging from cancer screening to routine operations get back on track, and is an effective way for businesses to show their support for both keyworkers and the patients they care for.”
The first business to donate to the Innovate Now fund, medical device manufacturer Medovate Ltd based in Cambridge, has confirmed its contribution of £5,000.
Stuart Thomson, MD of Medovate Ltd, commented:
"The Innovate Now fund is a perfect fit with Medovate's vision to develop innovations to support NHS professionals and patients. Critical care matches one of our key portfolio focus areas. So often the challenge of raising initial funding can lead to valuable new ideas not being realised. This new fund will help maintain momentum with the development and adoption of successful new innovations for the benefit of the NHS and beyond."
All businesses that can get involved will in return be acknowledged on associated marketing material. They will also receive regular updates on how funds are being deployed.
Additional details about Innovate Now can be found at www.hee.co.uk/services/funding/innovate-now or call Tim Fishlock, Head of Technology Transfer at HEE, on 01223 928048 to get involved.