DigitalHealth.London Accelerator opens for applications

Applications are now open for health tech starts up to apply to participate in the latest London Accelerator Programme.

Now in its fifth year, the Accelerator programme supports high potential innovators connect with industry, with an aim to speed-up adoption across London’s NHS.

HTN spoke with Sara Nelson, Programme Director at DigitalHealth.London Accelerator and asked Sara a few questions to find out more about the programme.

Could you tell me a bit about the programme?

“We’ve delivered the programme for 4 years now, part-funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund and we are now opening for the fifth year which is why we are now really excited to be opening for applications.

“We understand what the needs of SMEs are, so that we can help them. There’s a greater link towards evidence generation and being able to support why we are bringing this innovation into the NHS. So far, we have managed to support 105 innovators, through the Accelerator Programme, and we have had an additional 160 contracts that have been signed by those companies.

“We had an external evaluator look at our impact last year, and they found that for each pound that was spent on the programme, there was about fourteen pounds worth of savings for the NHS.”

Is there any particular focus for the Accelerator?

“We deliberately keep our applications very wide because the problems and requirements for the NHS are very wide and varied; our primary care and secondary care have very different problems so therefore to make a themed call doesn’t seem right at the moment.

“We are there for all innovators who believe that they have an answer to an NHS problem, and we want to review all applications; all applications go through quite a rigorous process and have to be reviewed by both expert reviewers from the NHS and industry. We want to see whatever is out there, we will then review it to see whether, not only their maturity and their potential to answer the NHS need, but also what they could get out of the accelerator. It is important to us of their ability to engage with us and collaborate with us to get the most out of the 1-year programme.”

Are there any requirements in terms of where the organisation is on their journey to qualify?

“They need to have a product or service, but it doesn’t have to be finished because the whole point is to help refine and to develop that product with them in partnership with the NHS. There needs to be a baseline of a product, or it can be with ‘formed products’ that will also bring benefits through the London Eco system if you like by having extra staff or being involved with research proposals. There are many things that companies may be able to benefit from the accelerator so coming with a product that they are ready to work with, but attitude is really something that is very important.

“What impresses me about digital innovation, is not just the shiny tech, but also the application to practice and that it’s really important to see where developers have really understood the problem that they are solving and how impressed I am with innovation where they really want to work in partnership and understand the needs and requirements of particular organisations. I think this is what we do daily in the accelerator and this is why we want to work with others.”

Over the past few years the programme has supported companies such as LIVI, Patchwork Health, Echo, Sweatcoin, Health Navigator and Perfect Ward.

Anna King, Commercial Director, Health Innovation Network, one for the founding partners of DigitalHealth.London said “The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme remains one of the most influential programmes of its kind, supporting fast-growing high-potential digital health businesses. It is also helping London establish its place as one of the most exciting and innovative digital health and care hubs in the world, with scope to develop, validate and scale innovations. I’d urge any digital health innovator who has a product or service that could support the NHS to consider joining this programme.”

Tara Donnelly, Chief Digital Officer, NHSX, said “The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is part of a digital revolution in the NHS that continues rapidly to develop, and we will continue to support innovative organisations delivering ground-breaking work.

“This programme has established itself as an important player in supporting the NHS and social care to make the most of the opportunities digital healthtech offers.”

For more information about the Accelerator programme, join a discussion with the Programme Director and some of the SMEs who have been supported by the programme on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator 101 Webinar at 11am (BST) on Wednesday 20 May 2020 via Zoom.