Creative England opens West Midlands part of groundbreaking £1 million fund for digital innovation in healthcare

Posted on 27 January 2016 (Permalink)

Creative England has announced the second part of the extension of its groundbreaking Interactive Healthcare Fund, pledging £1 million for digital companies outside of London to develop innovative healthcare technology and solutions.

At its flagship “CE Live 2016: Catalyse “ at Google HQ in London last week, Creative England officially opened the West Midlands part of the programme. This £500,000 fund will offer investments of up to £50,000 to companies and is accepting applications now.  The announcement followed the launch of the North West Interactive Healthcare Fund late in 2015.

Creative England also announced that the £250,000 Yorkshire and Humber arm of the programme will launch later this year. It will offer investments of up to £50,000 for companies based in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Financed by Creative England’s Regional Growth Fund and in partnership with the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, the funds will support the development of web, mobile and tablet applications. These will focus on some of the key healthcare priorities identified by the trust and networks.  It has been billed as a trailblazing initiative that offers developers the chance to make a splash in sectors outside of the creative industries.

Successful projects for the West Midlands Fund will focus on the interaction and sharing of information between patients and carers, new ideas for patients or clinicians in the domains of cardiovascular disease or the safe use of medications. Priority will be given to projects which address long term conditions, wellness and prevention of illness, advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine and mental health crisis care.

Ideas that may secure funding include: apps that develop a new communication channel between doctor and patient; new methods for data analysis; apps that support innovation in healthier living; or apps that promote patient understanding so they can take ownership of their own care.

Importantly, through the collaborative model of working with industry, promoted by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and the fund, healthcare experts are openly sharing their needs and challenges. This will enable the funded businesses to develop further their products and services.

Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO Creative England, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to launch the second part of our Interactive Healthcare Fund programme, designed to combine creativity and technology to revolutionise healthcare as we know it. Creative businesses can have a huge impact on sectors outside of the creative industries themselves and we hope this fund will give those with some of the most innovative ideas the chance to change people’s lives for the better.”

Bethan Bishop, Innovation and Industry Engagement, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Following the success of the fund last year, we are delighted to continue to support businesses who are developing digital products to improve health and wellbeing.  Not only are our patients and community already benefitting from the projects that started in 2015 but we enjoy the ability to access new thinking and expertise through the collaborative approaches this fund is fostering.“

Tony Davis, Commercial Director of West Midlands Academic Science Network, said: “The aim of the fund is to support sustainable growth and development in the digital healthcare sector. We will be giving priority to projects which push creative and commercial boundaries in support of health and wellbeing, developing new ideas for patients or clinicians, and which have a strong chance of longevity and success in the market. 

“We will be joining up the needs of the NHS with the expertise that exists within digital businesses in the West Midlands to both support patients with managing their own healthcare and improving NHS service delivery with creative digital solutions.”

Richard Stubbs, Commercial Director of Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, said: “In the very near future healthcare delivered digitally will undoubtedly be a major component of how the NHS continues to deliver outstanding care for all our patients. We are delighted to be supporting the Interactive Healthcare Fund. The investment into the Yorkshire and Humber region will enable our most creative companies to design digital products that tackle some of our most pressing healthcare challenges. We’re excited about supporting the companies to improve the lives of as many patients as possible.”

Applications to the West Midlands Fund will be assessed on a rolling basis and the fund will close on Friday 30 September 2016. For full guidelines and to apply for the West Midlands Interactive Healthcare Fund, visit the Creative England website.

This is the third time Creative England has run the Interactive Healthcare Fund, with previous successful projects including the Braci: Smart Ear for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Smart Ear recognises and analyses sounds from the patients’ surroundings and then converts them into a variety of vibrations, notifications and flashing lights, delivered via an app.

The West Midlands Interactive Healthcare Fund is the second of two interactive healthcare programmes Creative England is launching in collaboration with health and research partners. The full Interactive Healthcare Fund is supported by the Regional Growth Fund.