Merck Sharp & Dohme and Telefonica's Wayra UK have unveiled the next focus of their digital health innovation accelerator programme, calling for "radical solutions" to improving the treatment and care of patients with diabetes and helping cancer patients self-manage recovery.

For 2017, the groups' Velocity Health venture will launch two 'verticals' to support start-ups developing technologies that support patients better manage their disease, in the hope of improving their quality of life and potentially extending survival, as well as reducing the strain on healthcare services.

Under the scheme, digital start-ups chosen to take part in a 10-month accelerator programme will get access to a network of mentors, coaches and investors that will "nurture entrepreneurial talent and technological expertise" to help drive the development of innovative products destined to redefine future care.

Up to a total of £64,000 will be offered to each, including 50 percent in funds and the rest dedicated acceleration services, including access to 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, the groups said.

The Velocity Health accelerator was launched last year with the aim of investing in digital innovations targeting the challenges outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View, to help improve patient outcomes while closing a funding gap that is estimated at some £30 billion.

The programme's inaugural focus was on early diagnosis and identifying new ways of preventing disease that are essential in responding to the health and economic challenges outlined.