The Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare) says it has helped foster a pipeline of innovative ideas and products that have the potential to save the NHS £1 billion.

SBRI is an NHS England initiative that works with Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to identify priority areas where technology can be applied to address major clinical challenges.

The scheme runs a series of competitions offering early-stage companies the chance to win funding to help develop their novel ideas, as well as a route to market. Through the programme enterprises can get funding of up to £100,000 or more to test an idea and up to £1 million or more to develop a prototype.

As well as the potential for NHS savings, since its birth the SBRI has created over 420 jobs and leveraged £45 million of private sector investment with an economic impact in excess of £78 million, it says.

"We are delighted that the evidence is building that SBRI Healthcare can co-create the solutions to improve patient care and save NHS resources," said Programme Director, Karen Livingstone. "We have over 100 companies working with the NHS to develop innovations that will transform care and support growing businesses and jobs".

"Our work is having exciting results. But we know we can do more," added SBRI chair Richard Phillips.

"This year we are running competitions on managing patients in hospital settings - helping to improve the flow through the service and supporting self-care and independence for children with long-term conditions. In the autumn we will be focusing on community-based health services, under the theme 'GP of the future', addressing issues such as workload, diagnostics and self-care."

The SBRI Healthcare initiative will also work with AHSNs to accelerate the adoption of innovation in the NHS and wider international markets, including helping contracted companies to engage with the test-bed and vanguard sites to make new technologies part of re-designed service offerings, and expanding engagement with procurement bodies to ensure they are aware of its pipeline of products.