Funding awarded to support innovations that narrow inequalities in maternity care

£900,000 in funding has been awarded to ten innovation projects to help narrow inequalities in maternity care.

SBRI Healthcare, an Accelerated Access Collaborative initiative, has awarded the funding to innovations including AI to help diagnose perinatal PTSD, a digital product to support breastfeeding and early parenthood, a platform to support women from marginalised communities and minority ethnic groups, a portable incubator, and a new needle design for spinal anaesthesia.

The funding aims to accelerate change and tackle the challenge that “one in four women experience mental health difficulties during, or in the 24 months following pregnancy,” SBRI Healthcare said.

The projects will be supported for six months with the aim to evaluate and demonstrate their technical feasibility, impact and the potential to seek further funding.

Matt Whitty, Director of Innovation, Research and Life Sciences at NHS England and CEO of the Accelerated Access Collaborative, said: “We have selected these innovations because they have the potential to make a big difference in tackling health inequalities in maternal health. By supporting the most promising innovations the NHS will continue to evolve, helping meet more patients needs and encouraging more innovators to come forward with ideas that make a difference.”

The projects include:

Barnardo Services Limited

The Universal Language: addressing perinatal mental health inequalities among the Black and South Asian community through a hyper-local offer which draws on national teams and digital assets. This co-designed offer will allow women, birthing people, and partners to access a choice of multi-channel services, while retaining local, relational support.

LatchAid Ltd  

A smart, scalable, and accessible solution for breastfeeding and early parenthood support to address health inequality in maternity care. LatchAid is an app utilising 3D interactive technology, an AI-powered virtual companion leveraging 1-to-1 specialist support, and virtual support communities, to provide families with scalable breastfeeding and early parenthood support 24/7 and address health inequalities in maternity care.

Damibu Ltd

Research on ‘hyper-localisation’ of digital health information to address maternal health inequalities as experienced by different localities and cultures. Damibu Feeds is a platform for creating, managing and delivering public-facing health information.

2SN Healthcare Ltd

JanamApp, a mobile application designed to improve perinatal health and reduce health inequalities and maternity outcomes by addressing educational, cultural and social barriers in pregnancy and postnatally in the South Asian population. The information within the application provides culturally sensitive information in multiple South Asian languages.

Sheffield Hallam University – DigiCP

Addressing health inequalities through the digitalisation of perinatal mental health care pathways for service providers and users. Development of a digital service that will support health service users to navigate existing care pathways.

First 4 Health Group 

Maternal psychosocial risk identification and follow-up group clinics. A data-driven maternity service in GP surgeries, that utilises a maternal psychosocial risk identification tool to proactively flag up women at-risk across preconception, pregnancy and post-birth, so that they can be followed up and supported by healthcare professionals.

Digital Care Systems – CarePath-ASSIST project

Improving diagnosis of perinatal PTSD with a platform for AI supported serious illness screening and treatment. Digital Care Systems is using knowledge-based and conversational AI to support mothers in getting access to the right care by empowering them to get the right assessment at the right time.

mOm Incubators Ltd

Bringing the mOm incubator home – a lightweight, compact, portable incubator designed to extend neonatal and newborn care to new settings.

The Real Birth Company

The research, development and pilot of the Real Birth Company’s ‘Giving Birth to your Baby Early’ Module, created to support marginalised communities at higher risk, to raise awareness of preterm birth, the neonatal journey and to help improve perinatal mental health. The creation and development of this digital module will help people understand and prepare for what to expect in a premature birth, including why their birth may be different and the neonatal journey.

Buckingham Medical Technologies Ltd

Solving the problem of failed spinal anaesthesia: fluid dynamics of spinal injections and a new spinal needle design.

To find out more, please visit the SBRI Healthcare website.