News, News in Brief

News in brief: Moorfields appoints new CCIO, NHS innovation workshop, EU Horizon funding

So far this week, we’ve heard that the Department of Health and Social Care is set to publish a new data strategy, while a host of charities are collaborating to provide ‘information prescriptions’ to patients, and a CCG is aiming to improve digital primary care accessibility in its county.

But there’s also much more to share, which means it’s time for our news in brief to sum up what you may have missed over the past seven days or so.

From innovation funding opportunities and networks, through to appointments and acquisitions updates, there’s lots to catch up on…

UK innovators can apply for EU Horizon funding 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is encouraging UK innovators to apply for funding through the EU’S Horizon Europe programme.

According to UKRI, the scheme could provide businesses, innovators and researchers with access to “new markets, capabilities and technologies as well as billions of pounds of funding”, the latter of which is available for projects in areas such as medical science and cancer research. Funding is also available through the European Innovation Council (EIC), which “supports the commercialisation of high-risk, high-impact technologies”.

Last year, one of the successful Horizon 2020 funding recipients from the UK was the London-based GyroGear, which was given €1.85 million, in addition to business support, to develop wearable tech to “help stabilise hand tremors” in people with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Jo Frost, UK National Contact Point Team advisor, said: “Horizon Europe brings exciting new opportunities and new ways of working as researchers and innovators unite across Europe.

“It’s a huge opportunity for UK businesses to renew and expand research and innovation connections in the EU and beyond, and to benefit from funding, cross-border networks, supply chains for new products and access to global talent.

“The UK National Contact Point team is here to help you make the most of the many Horizon Europe opportunities.

“We provide free personalised support and guidance and can help you find both funding and potential partners. So please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or are interested in learning more.”

Dr Ben Masheder, Funding and Finance Manager at Innovate UK EDGE, added: “With approximately €95.5 billion available, Horizon Europe funding is an amazing opportunity to secure grants from the European Commission to develop game-changing innovation.”

Those interested in applying can find out more via the dedicated UKRI page.

Yorkshire and Humber AHSN hosts NHS innovation workshop

Health innovation hub Medipex and the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network will host an “interactive, online workshop” on why innovation is important in the NHS.

The Yorkshire and Humber Innovation Champion Network session, entitled ‘How to start innovating in the NHS’, is set to take place on 21 July 2021, from 1pm to 4pm.

As well as providing an introduction to the network, the online event will also give practical advice and outline the support that is available to NHS innovators.

Presentations and group exercises will include understanding the importance of innovation and how to identify unmet clinical needs, as well as how to start identifying solutions, and how to find out about assessment of ideas, wider adoption and spread.

The workshop is open only to NHS staff, with those based in Yorkshire and the Humber able to register and participate for free.

To find out more or book a space, visit the Eventbrite page.

Trusts collaborate with Leeds university to design oxygen therapy device

Staff from the University of Leeds, in partnership with two West Yorkshire NHS trusts, have designed a device that will help improve access to oxygen therapy in countries struggling with COVID-19.

Described as a “low-cost device” that provides CPAP oxygen flow, the Leeds LeVe costs just £150 to manufacture and has been made to function in ‘lower-resourced healthcare settings’, meaning it could provide better access to care in low to middle income countries.

Designed to provide “therapeutic oxygen support to patients severely ill with  COVID-19, pneumonia or other forms of respiratory distress”, the device was developed by a team of scientists and clinicians across the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The prototype device has already passed safety tests, following a trial on healthy volunteers, and a patient trial involving people with breathing difficulties is being planned at the Mengo Hospital, a not-for-profit health institution in Kampala, Uganda.

Professor David Brettle, Chief Scientific Officer at Leeds Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The LeVe CPAP device is the culmination of a fantastic collaboration between academia and health in direct response to the COVID pandemic.  In the UK, we often take for granted access to the necessary health technology, but even relatively simple technology is often not available in low-and middle-income countries.

“This new development should help to level the playing field in this respect, not just for Covid but for other respiratory conditions,  helping to improve care world-wide and ultimately saving lives.”

Inflexion acquires cloud specialist ANS

Inflexion has announced it has acquired ANS, a provider of digital transformation and cloud-managed services.

ANS and existing Inflexion investment UKFast will be brought together under one parent group, in response to ‘rapid market growth’ in digital and cloud services. The group will combine ANS’s public cloud, DevOps, applications and data expertise with UKFast’s leadership in private cloud, hosting and security.

Both businesses will continue to operate under their existing brands, while being able to offer customers services from the group’s full portfolio.

Founded in 1996, ANS is a partner to Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and will combine with UKFast to focus on deepening the skilled resources available to customer organisations.

The combined group will launch a Digital Academy and enhanced apprenticeship programmes, and also plans to hire more than 100 new staff over the remainder of 2021.

Simon Turner, Managing Partner at Inflexion, commented: “Together, the businesses are well poised to accelerate their growth as the market for cloud and digital services continues to benefit from strong demand.”

Paul Nannetti, who has been appointed Chair of the combined group, said: “The combined group will be an incubator of leading‐edge skills and capabilities to help our customers benefit from agile, affordable and scalable technologies to transform their businesses.”

UKRI provides £10 million funding boost to UKI2S

In more UKRI news, the funding body has given a £10 million boost to the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), with the aim of supporting more early-stage businesses.

According to UKRI, the UKI2S is a £37 million seed fund that “invests in early-stage, high-risk, long-term capital for high potential, early-stage businesses”. Its goal is to enhance the UK’s “competitiveness and productivity” from “commercialisation of many areas of publicly-funded research”, which includes healthcare and artificial intelligence, as well as a “specialised sub-fund” focused on synthetic biology.

The new £10 million in funds will enable UKI2S to support more businesses, which are usually “early-stage, deep-tech” businesses involved in topics as wide-ranging as new antibiotics and Alzheimer’s disease, through to airport security.

The fund has already invested £19 million in 70 companies that have gone on to create over 700 jobs, attract millions in private investment and spend more than £300 million on research and development.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “This new funding is testament to the flourishing innovation sector in the UK. UKRI continues to support a vibrant community of start-up and spin-out companies, demonstrating that from the seed of an idea, with careful watering, the most bold and innovative breakthroughs can grow.

“Thanks to seed fund investment, these companies are mining the rich vein of research carried out in laboratories across the UK to deliver solutions to real-world problems, and address some of the biggest challenges in medicine, sustainability and technology.”

Moorfields Eye Hospital appoints new CCIO

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has announced the appointment of Peter Thomas as its new Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO).

Peter will begin his new role from 2 August 2021, and his duties will include raising awareness of the importance of clinical informatics in safe, high-quality patient care and promoting Moorfields as a digitally enabled trust.

He will also support the eye hospital’s strategy to implement a full electronic medical record, as the trust prepares for its move to a new, integrated site in Camden with Oriel, a joint initiative between Moorfields, the Moorfields Eye Charity and the UCL Institute of Opthalmology.

One of Peter’s goals is also to set up and lead the new department of digital medicine, which will support the digital transformation of clinical services and enable safe and effective use of technologies such as artificial intelligence.