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New £90m DH fund to help SMEs develop breakthrough medical innovations

An £86m package has been announced to fund UK firms to develop medical breakthroughs that could benefit the NHS.

The pot will allow small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop and test innovating technologies in the UK’s health service.

The announcement also marks the first steps forward with the Accelerated Access Review (AAR), an independently chaired review which made recommendations to government on speeding up patient access to new technologies.

Patients are already feeling the benefits of some new technologies, including MyCOPD – an online system that helps people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease better manage their condition.

“The government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible,” said health minister Lord O’Shaugnessy. “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.”

The funding will be split into four parts: £39m to the Academic Health Science Networks, £35m to Digital Health Technology for innovators, up to £6m over the next three years to help SMEs with innovative medicine, and a £6m Pathway Transformation Fund to help integrate new technologies.

Peter Ellingworth, CEO of the Association of British Healthcare Industries, added: “These additional funding initiatives will complement work already in place on Innovation Tariff, NICE processes and horizon scanning as part of the overall AAR.

“The measures could significantly enhance the UK as a destination of choice for MedTech companies, in turn, benefitting patients, the health system and the wider economy.”

Dr Richard Torbett, executive director or Commercial Policy at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), also welcomed the fund, saying: “As more and more small and medium-sized innovators join the ABPI, we continue to encourage and advocate ways to make ground-breaking, cost-effective healthcare technologies available as fast as possible.

“In doing so, patients will not only benefit from improved care, but the NHS will also become more productive and more sustainable in the long term.”

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