The programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and managed by HEE, will be providing critical funding to DiagNodus, TumourVue and Javelin Health, three ground-breaking projects tackling urgent healthcare priorities, including COVID-19 and cancer care.
Innovation Grants facilitate collaboration between the SME community and eligible knowledge providers, such as NHS Trusts or universities. They enable more effective knowledge transfer between these groups in order to ensure a swifter and more seamless product development process.
The Innovation Grant awarded to DiagNodus will help fund an urgently designed project aiming to determine immunity to COVID-19 by assessing the presence of antiviral antibodies in non-invasively collected colorectal mucus samples from patients recovering from the virus. Diagnostic validity of the approach is already proven for colorectal cancer and bowel inflammation detection. The Cambridge-based company, DiagNodus will now be collaborating with experts at the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St. George’s, University of London, to enhance its patient-friendly sampling technique and biomarker analysis, anticipating that the innovative colorectal mucus analysis will provide a highly reliable way of determining antiviral immunity that will help in both estimating individual risk of infection and assessing immunisation efficiency once a new COVID-19 vaccine is finally ready.
Another Grant has been awarded to Cambridge’s TumourVue to support the development and clinical validation of a potentially transformative medical imaging device for cancer surgery. The technology combines an imaging technology and artificial intelligence algorithms to produce more precise visualisation of tumour margins, delivering images in real-time during surgeries. Moreover, unlike conventional imaging tools, this new technology is easy to integrate, and can be worn on a surgeon’s safety or prescription glasses. TumourVue are collaborating with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on their proof of principle trial using a handheld, first iteration of the device.
The final recipient of an Innovation Grant is Javelin Health, a MedTech start-up based in Scotland. Founded by Dr Ashton Barnett-Vanes, a practising clinician-scientist and RSE Enterprise Fellow, the award will fund a health and economic impact assessment of their lead asset - a device to secure peripheral intravascular cannulas, the world’s most commonly used medical device. The non-invasive device, currently in prototype development, aims to reduce high (>50%) cannula failure rates and improve the quality care for millions of patients that undergo this routine procedure each year. The award will see Javelin collaborate with industry leaders King’s Technology Evaluation Centre (KiTEC).
The overall funding under the scheme for the first three projects stands at £45,000 collectively, with each Innovation Grant worth up to 50 per cent of the total project costs (capped at £7,500). Additional Innovation Grants are expected to be announced soon from the total grant funding allocation of £300,000, each one supporting innovative SMEs through the early proof-of-concept and development phases, by providing access to expert advice and product reviews, as well as the potential for longer-term collaborations.
Commenting on the Innovation Grants, Dr Anne Blackwood, Chief Executive of HEE, said:
“We know that when innovators in the NHS and the medtech industry work together, incredible new technologies can be developed and brought to market quickly. The MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grants are designed to give SMEs the leg-up they need to foster essential relationships with clinical experts in order to hone their product development and ultimately deliver better patient outcomes.
“This first crop of winners is indicative of the calibre and ambition of projects that the Innovation Grant scheme aims to support, with a focus on medtech solutions that tackle the most pressing health priorities of the moment. We look forward to supporting more SMEs in their development of ground-breaking innovations in the near future.”
Details on the wider MedTech NAVIGATOR programme and Innovation Grants, including eligibility, funding and outcome expectations can be found at www.medtechnavigator/funding