The first wave of the 2015 NHS Innovation Challenge Prize competition has been launched this week, offering access to a £150,000 cash pot to help accelerate the progress of new ideas that address England’s biggest healthcare issues.

Wave 1 of this year’s programme is focused on two areas - a cancer specific challenge to recognise initiatives that demonstrate delivery of the NHS Cancer Strategy and Five Year Forward View through new models of care, and an open innovation category that will award a series of ‘acorn’ prizes to small innovations that could make a big difference to patients.

MSD Healthcare is providing £100,000 for the prizes with the remaining £50,000 funded by NHS England. As well as prize money, all winners will now be offered a far greater level of professional support, tailored to individual needs, provided by a range of partners, than in previous years.

According to NHS England, since the programme’s launch five years ago Innovation Challenge Prizes have helped to identify and spread proven innovations, promote a culture of invention and drive adoption of the best ideas. 

Previous winners include creators of a novel diagnostic pathway to detect significant liver disease in the community, which was awarded £100,000 for its potential to save lives and increase detection rates for cirrhosis by 200%, with projected cost savings across the NHS in England being as much as £74.6 million in the first year if rolled out.

“What makes the challenge prizes special is that they reward great ideas from people who already work in the NHS, and can see for themselves what needs to change,” noted NHS England National Director for Commissioning Strategy Ian Dodge. “These are ideas you'd never get from behind a desk in Whitehall, and because they’re ‘made in the NHS’ they've got the very best chance of success”.