£86 million funding for medicine and technology

The government has announced new funding of up to £86 million to speed up access to new medicine and technology by supporting businesses to develop and test their innovations.

The package will allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop medical breakthroughs in the NHS. This can include innovations such as digital technologies to help patients manage their conditions from home instead of a hospital, or to develop new medicines. It will also speed up the time it takes to get new technologies from the lab to NHS patients.

The announcement is the first step in moving forward the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) which made recommendations to government on speeding up patient access to new technologies.

Technologies that have previously received support are already bringing benefits to patients. For example, MyCOPD helps people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) better manage their condition online. It has reduced reliance on GP and hospital appointments by helping over 32,000 patients improve their breathing, manage flare-ups and track medicine use.

The funding is split into four packages, including: £39 million to the Academic Health Science Networks (ASHNs); £35 million Digital Health Technology Catalyst for innovators; up to £6 million to help SMEs; and £6 million Pathway Transformation Fund.

Lord O’Shaughnessy, Health Minister, said: “The government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible.

“That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – like speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs.

“Our investment in innovation shows how much we value the UK life sciences sector.”

Lord Prior, Business Minister, said: “The government has an important role to play in driving innovation that will increase economic growth and support businesses across the country. Through this funding we will quicken the pace of scientific discovery and innovation in the UK. Our Industrial Strategy will boost our status a global hub for life sciences.”

Peter Ellingworth, CEO of Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), said: “ABHI welcomes the announcement as a further commitment to supporting the UK medical technology sector. These additional funding initiatives will complement work already in place on Innovation Tariff, NICE processes and horizon scanning as part of the overall Accelerated Access Review. The measures could significantly enhance the UK as a destination of choice for MedTech companies, in turn, benefiting patients, the health system and the wider economy.”

Ben Moody, Head of Health and Social Care at techUK, said: “The UK is a world leader in health tech but we must not be complacent. The Digital Health Technology Catalyst will be a great boost for innovators in the sector.

“The announcement also recognises that the resources needed to generate evidence to show that a technology is worth reimbursing can be prohibitively difficult for SMEs - so the fund to support evidence generation for innovative devices is particularly welcome.”