SBRI Healthcare, an initiative funded by NHS England, is offering small and medium sized businesses the chance to win a slice of £2.5 million to help them develop innovative products and services that address certain currently unmet health needs.

In the latest competition, the organisation is looking for ideas from companies on tackling challenges across five key areas of healthcare, chosen in partnership with Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs): Child & Maternal Health; Integrated Care; Medicines Adherence; Musculoskeletal; and Telehealth/Telecare for people with Learning Disabilities.

Succesful projects will picked on "their potential value to the health service, patient benefit and the opportunity to back thriving businesses", it said. 

Projects will be given a six-month feasibility phase backed by an award of up to £100,000, followed by phase of more detailed product development and NHS validation, where companies could potentially bag as much as £2 million in funding support.

“The SBRI Healthcare programme is a great enabler of innovation in the NHS,” said Peter Ellingworth, Chair of the SBRI Management Board. “Companies can gain substantial funding but also the expert support of the NHS to develop products that truly reflect patient need," he added.

A record 44 companies benefitted from the scheme in 2013.

Karen Livingstone, National Director of SBRI Healthcare, told PharmaTimes World News last year that the funding offered by the scheme helps accelerate the pace of programmes that small companies - largely in the med tech arena - might otherwise not have the capacity to make happen.