The Department of Health is providing a £5 million funding boost in the form of two competitions to encourage businesses to come up with new products or services that will help improve the experience of people with mental health illnesses and people at the end of their life.

The funding is part of the government’s commitment to help improve care for patients with long-term conditions and ensure high quality care and support for those at the end of their life. For instance, the government’s ‘No health without mental health’ outcomes strategy shows the importance of tackling the inequalities that lead to poor mental health and the challenges associated with the illness.


“We need to find new ways of treating and supporting people with mental illnesses and need to ensure those approaching the end of their life are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best care and support. Small businesses play a crucial role in providing creative and innovative solutions to existing problems. That’s why we are supporting them through our £5 million funding to tackle these challenges and make a difference to patient’s lives,” said health minister Lord Howe.

The mental health competition calls for creative ideas and technologies that could mean mental illnesses are diagnosed earlier, and the disease better managed through a more tailored approach to care. Meanwhile, the competition on end of life care focuses on how new technologies can help people have a better experience of end of life care. Ideas could include new technologies that provide greater comfort and help with managing pain.  

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “These new competitions represent the next step in the continued engagement of the Department of Health and the NHS in Small Business Research Initiative showing the value that they can get from engaging with the industry, taking the role of lead customer and securing new and novel solutions to intractable problems while at the same time encouraging British business.”

The competitions are part of the Small Business Initiative, which is a cross-government initiative that aims to promote UK economic growth while addressing public sector needs.

Previous SBRI competitions called for technological and innovative solutions to change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol-related diseases and solutions to improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed. Contracts have now been awarded to the successful organisations and work is now underway to turn these innovative ideas into commercialisation stage and ultimately NHS adoption.

The application process is run through Health Enterprise East, the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England. Applications can be downloaded from and are due 28 February.