A new innovator support programme, which aims to reduce health gaps and inequalities, is being launched today by the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) in partnership with the Health Tech Hub, based at the University of the West of England.

The West of England Closing the Health Gap Programme is calling for applications from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, with either new or existing healthcare innovations that could support the NHS in its commitment to reducing health inequalities.

Core20PLUS5 is the national NHS England approach to support the reduction of health inequalities. It identifies a target population facing deprivation – the ‘Core20PLUS’ and identifies ‘5’ focus clinical areas requiring accelerated improvement at both a national and system level.

Five places are available on the West of England Closing the Health Gap Programme for innovators with products or services that may have the potential to support these Core20PLUS5 ambitions.  This can include companies that are already based in, or are working with, an NHS organisation in the West of England* region.

Successful applicants will benefit from a tailored package of expertise and support from the Health Tech Hub and the West of England AHSN.

The package will include technical product development support from specialist scientists and engineers, and access to state-of-the-art facilities within the Health Tech Hub, combined with expert knowledge of the NHS as a marketplace and business value proposition.

Support provided by the Health Tech Hub will focus on one aspect critical to the business’ product development pathway. The programme may therefore be particularly beneficial to those innovators who are currently “stuck” with a certain aspect of product development and who would benefit from a helping hand.

The West of England AHSN will provide tailored support to assess the opportunity for the selected innovations to be adopted by and spread across the NHS. Innovators will be offered advice in order to better understand:

  • how the product can best support the needs/problems within the NHS (market pull as opposed to technology push) and whether it can be applied to specifically address the Core20PLUS5 initiative
  • what is needed to develop the potential value of their innovation to the NHS, and
  • how to evidence and create a powerful value proposition to support this when presenting to clinicians and commissioners.

On completing the programme, each company will be given a feedback report, assessing their innovation’s technology readiness and providing an action plan to support their ongoing needs. Innovators will also benefit from:

  • Access to NHS needs-identification insight/research to support business cases
  • Scoping of equality impact assessments
  • Ongoing access to funding opportunities
  • Improved visibility of products to NHS organisations in the West of England health and care system.
  • Access to the AHSN’s connections within the West of England health and care system.

Alex Leach, Acting Director for Innovation and Growth at the West of England AHSN, said:

“Innovation is vital in helping the NHS to achieve its ambition to tackle health inequalities and this programme will support promising SMEs with a healthcare innovation to accelerate development and help them determine the applicability of their innovation towards the Core20PLUS5 agenda.”

Professor Janice Kiely, from the University of the West of England and Director of the Health Tech Hub, added:

“Since 2008, the Health Tech Hub has supported over 120 start-ups and SMEs to develop their novel technologies. Many of these are already progressing to receive substantial investment and/or adoption by the NHS. We are delighted to work with the West of England AHSN and businesses on this initiative to drive further improvements in healthcare delivery.”

The deadline for applications to the programme is 5pm, Friday 25 November 2022.

Innovators can apply for the West of England Closing the Health Gap Programme here.


Notes to editors

* The West of England region includes businesses based within Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon, Wilshire and Gloucestershire.

** Companies who have previously accessed support from the West of England AHSN or the Health Technology Hub via other funding routes are not excluded from applying.

Posted on October 31, 2022

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