Businesses set a healthcare challenge

FIRMS in the East of England are being encouraged to come forward with new technologies to help improve healthcare through a major regional initiative.

FIRMS in the East of England are being encouraged to come forward with new technologies to help improve healthcare through a major regional initiative.

NHS East of England, the East of England Development Agency and the Technology Strategy Board are leading the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which is being piloted at regional level in the East of England.

The scheme offers funding to companies working on the development of an innovative process, material, device, product or service which will help to meet current health priorities in the region.

The initiative is also being supported by Health Enterprise East (HEE), the region's NHS Innovation Hub based at Papworth Hospital which is managing the competition on behalf of the funding partners. Up to �100,000 for each winning project is on offer in Phase 1, with the potential of further financial help to develop and evaluate projects in Phase 2.

Firms are invited to submit ideas that can be turned into practical solutions to make a substantial difference in the three priority areas of managing long-term conditions, patient safety and keeping children active.

All proposals will need to demonstrate that they can contribute to achieving a low carbon environment.

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Chair of NHS East of England Keith Pearson said. “This is a very exciting venture for the NHS and the business community in the east. We hope that this challenge fund will help local technology companies to come forward with exciting new ideas to crack some of our difficult health problems.

“Through this initiative, the NHS will offer much needed support to the regional economy. We hope that this funding will encourage business and the NHS to work together to solve these health problems.”

Director of innovation at EEDA Paul May said: “The Small Business Research Initiative will benefit patients as well as leading edge companies in the healthcare sector right across the region. The East of England is the first region in the UK to develop the scheme and is yet more proof of this being the 'ideas' region. It is evidence of the excellent collaboration between partners.

“We firmly believe that encouraging innovation is the way businesses will be able to get through the recession and ensure they are in pole position to make the most of the opportunities when the upturn comes.

“EEDA is proud to have kick-started this pioneering project, facilitating meetings with Iain Gray of the Technology Strategy Board. We will be evaluating the scheme closely as it progresses to see whether this is a model that can be applied to other areas too.”

The closing date for submissions for SBRI East is June 30, 2009. An application form can be downloaded at www.hee.org.uk