UK technology board invests £15m in medical device and telecare R&D

23 September 2008

The UK Technology Strategy Board has awarded grants of  £5 million for nine projects to research and develop telecare products and a further £10 million for 22 projects developing new medical devices. The projects will bring together the best UK expertise from industry, the health and care professions and universities. 

In telecare the collaborative projects will result in research and development in areas such as: 

  • in-home two-way video technology for the supply of health information and for tele-consultation with healthcare professionals;
  • an automated, non-intrusive, intelligent monitoring system for the elderly and disabled;
  • the development of an innovative real time gait-training system for people with an abnormal gait;
  • the evaluation of the potential benefits of proactive preventative telecare and telehealth systems.

The Technology Strategy Board will invest over £5m in the initiative while the Department of Health will contribute a further £500,000.  This investment will be matched by funding from the companies participating in the research.

This is the first investment in research and development by the Assisted Living Innovation Platform, which was launched in November 2007 and brings together government, business and the research community to address health and care challenges caused by the welcome impact of living longer, but the increasing demand for care for people with long-term conditions.

The twenty-two projects developing medical devices aim to improve healthcare provision by bringing medical diagnosis, condition monitoring and care and analytical capabilities closer to patients.

The Technology Strategy Board will invest £10 million in the projects, with the balance provided by the British companies involved in the research.

The projects will see research and development in areas such as:

  • miniature wireless handheld sensors that quickly detect the flu virus;
  • portable system for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in GP surgeries and other point-of-care settings;
  • point-of-care test for the rapid genetic diagnosis of haematological cancer; and
  • novel photonics technology for use in assessment of dental disease.

Commenting on the decision to invest in these projects, the Technology Strategy Board's Chief Executive, Iain Gray, said: "Through this support, the Technology Strategy Board is helping to bring together the UK's world class expertise to research and develop innovative technologies in a key area for the UK."

"Bringing healthcare closer to the community, from hospitals to GPs' surgeries and sometimes even into the home, can be both cost effective and of enormous benefit to patients," he added. "Developing technologies to enable this to happen is a major challenge, but one which UK companies are clearly well able to meet. There are also global market opportunities for such technology which, through this research and development, UK companies will be well-placed to exploit."

The funding of these projects is the latest in a series of major investments in innovative research and development by the Technology Strategy Board. The Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). Its mission is to "promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life".

Since August, the Board has announced that it will invest over £70 million in 110 projects in cell therapy, material technologies for energy, high value manufacturing, low carbon energy technologies, advanced lighting & lasers, data protection & privacy, technologies for assisted living and, now, healthcare technologies.

Including contributions from the research councils and match funding from the private sector, this brings the total investment in research and development backed by the Board to nearly £145 million.

See also:

  1. Cranfield University to develop drug delivery monitor for critical care
  2. Enigma Diagnostics awarded £1.8 million to develop rapid DNA test for infectious diseases

To top