Merck Sharp & Dohme and Telefonica’s Wayra Open Future have launched the UK’s first digital preventative healthcare accelerator, with cash and support up for grabs to fuel new solutions that address challenges outlined in the NHS’ Five Year Forward View. 

The scheme will offer a select number of digital start-ups a 10-month accelerator programme where a network of mentors, coaches and investors will nurture entrepreneurial talent and technological expertise to aid the development of innovative products and services that will reshape future care.

Up to a total of £64,000 will be offered to each, including 50% in funds and the rest consisting of dedicated acceleration services, including access to a network of mentors, coaches and investors and office space within Wayra Open Future’s academy in Central London, and potentially access to Telefonica’s customer base (of more than 300 million) and MSD’s networks.

Just 4% of the NHS budget is currently spent on prevention programmes and, with a funding gap on track to reach £30 billion by 2020/21, both parties believe that taking full ownership of managing our health and engaging in prevention activities could lead to better patient outcomes and a more cost-effective healthcare system.

“Through Velocity Health, we want to empower patients to take more control and ownership over their wellbeing and believe emerging digital technologies have a vital part to play in achieving this goal,” said Gary Stewart, Director at Wayra Open Future, UK.