SBRI Healthcare national competition launched to find innovative solutions in mental health and technology in surgery

Posted on 20 October 2017 (Permalink)

A new SBRI Healthcare competition has been launched by NHS England in partnership with the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to find innovative new products and services in mental health and technology in surgery.

Following ever-increasing pressure on mental health and surgical services, challenges in delivering treatment and therapies, the cost of patient waiting times and delivering surgery, innovative projects will be selected primarily on their potential value to the health service and on the improved outcomes delivered for patients.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health reported that mental health problems account for a quarter of all ill health in the UK; that one in four adults will experience mental health problems each year. Furthermore, mental health problems have an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year – approximately the cost of the entire NHS.  This year’s follow up to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health report observed that 120,000 more people are now receiving specialist mental health treatment compared to 3 years ago, including over 20,000 more children and young people.

There are many potential technologies available that have the capability to help patients with mental health issues; what is lacking is new interventions and transformative technologies that can augment existing treatments by improving their efficacy, engagement and delivery. Emerging evidence from some vanguard sites suggests that integrated approaches to mental health can help to support improved performance across the wider health system. 

Meanwhile, over a ten year period, the number of surgical admissions to secondary care increased by 27%, from 3.7 million in 2003/04 to 4.7 million in 2013/14. There are over three thousand NHS operating theatres in England, 19% of which are dedicated day case theatres and annual expenditure on surgery in the NHS has been estimated at £4.5 billion (2013). 

In order to reduce the costs incurred by surgical admissions, there has been a trend towards having both elective and non-elective procedures carried out as day cases. Other examples of reducing length of stay following surgery (as well as patient outcomes) include the use of surgical techniques which are minimally invasive, the deployment of robotic systems and virtual reality-based training. Another approach to reducing the costs within surgery is to deploy frugal innovation, which involves taking an established tool or work practice and developing a new and more cost-effective way of deploying it.

If successful, applicants can receive up to £100,000 (including VAT) of funding for phase one (feasibility) and up to £1 million (including VAT) for phase two (development) for solutions that match the needs of the NHS.

The competition is open now and closes at 12 noon on 29 November 2017. For more information and to apply, visit If you have any questions, you can contact a member of the SBRI Healthcare team on 01223 928040 or email

Briefing events

The following three briefing events have been scheduled for attendees to receive further details concerning the competition specification, the application process, support available to companies and the opportunity to present questions to the panel. Click on the appropriate links to register your attendance.

  • Bristol: Tuesday 24 October, 1.30 - 4.30pm, Doubletree by Hilton, Redcliffe Way, Bristol BS1 6NJ - click here to register
  • Nottingham: Tuesday 31 October, 9.30am – 12.30pm, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Innovation Park, Triumph Road, Nottingham NG7 2TU - click here to register
  • Liverpool: Friday 3 November, 8.30 – 11am, Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool L14 5NA - click here to register.