£5 million awarded to 22 projects to support the healthcare of veterans

£5 million has been awarded to 22 projects to drive technology and treatments to support the healthcare of veterans.

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs’ (OVA) Health Innovation Fund is delivered in collaboration with the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), and aims to improve innovation to ensure that treatments are informed by the latest developments, technology and research in clinical care. 

The recipients are as follows:

  • Imperial College London is creating four linked projects to develop prosthetics, including implants to treat limb pain. The projects will use surgery techniques and focus on how they can improve prosthetics for patients. 
  • NuTissu, a company focusing on advanced material technology, will develop E-Plasters. This is a wound healing technique that uses electricity and biomaterials to further the healing of skin wounds. They will be analysed to see how they can improve the quality of life of veterans and reduce costs of long-term wound care. 
  • University of Birmingham scientists are to use biomarkers in saliva and blood from veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, to develop an algorithm to forecast treatment and prognosis. 
  • The University of Exeter is working with IonaMind to create and analyse AI powered tech to treat anxiety and depression in female veterans. 
  • Blesma: The Limbless Veterans Charity is analysing the lived experience of injured veterans who use wheelchairs and electronic powered vehicles. They will provide a “comparison of the effectiveness of selected categories of assistive technologies.” 
  • Forward Assist is to develop a clear understanding of the multiple and complex issues faced by military veterans with lived experience of sexual assault, identifying gaps in service provision.
  • Radii Devices Ltd is working with the Universities of Bath and Southampton, Blesma, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust and Unai. They are developing an app to allow prosthesis users to note discomfort, “with the data enabling insights for prosthetists to optimise comfort and deliver socket fitting.” 
  • Anglia Ruskin University is working alongside Leeds Beckett University, The King’s Centre for Military Health Research, the Veterans’ Trauma Network and Defence Medical Welfare Services. They are co-designing recommendations to improve care pathways and service delivery for female veterans’ physical health. 
  • Bravo Victor is working with Esme’s Umbrella and Moorfields Eye Hospital in improving the understanding of “visual hallucinations among military veterans and refine management strategies” ensuring individuals receive the right healthcare and an accurate diagnosis. 
  • St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service are collaborating with NHS Lanarkshire and the University of the West of Scotland to analyse how welfare technology and support can help veterans isolated in Lanarkshire.
  • King’s College London is working with Combat Stress to enhance a digital application so it can help female veterans with problem drinking.
  • Umio is working with Cognuse, a rehabilitation platform for the continuum of care, to create a veteran “chronic pain peer-support and self-learning/management platform” to help veterans live better lives with long-term pain.
  • Swansea University is analysing the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of a smartphone app in minimising harmful gambling and PTSD symptoms among veterans.
  • Northumbria University is assessing the risks and impacts of military service on brain health in female veterans.

Subject to contract signing: 

  • Cardiff University is to produce an online military-focused cognitive behavioural therapy supporting veterans with PTSD.
  • Imperial College London and Anglia Ruskin University are to collaborate to analyse the Veterans Trauma Network to support future growth and development. 
  • Imperial College London and Northumbria University are to work together to develop a “comprehensive evidence base for the physical health needs” of veterans. 
  • Imperial college London, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Wellcome Trust and Defence Medical services will investigate the characteristics of combat injury and interventions to evaluate whether they have a beneficial effect on long-term outcomes.
  • University of Leicester is to produce an online test to magnify the accessibility of assessments that are carried out in medical practices or at home to “provide clinicians fast access to information that is crucial to the accurate diagnosis of PTSD.” 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer said: “I’m delighted that we’re providing funding to these projects today. Utilising the latest developments in research and clinical care, these initiatives will spur innovation and new techniques to treat veterans – both with physical and mental health conditions – who have been injured in the line of duty.” 

Secretary of State at the new Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, Michelle Donelan, added: “It is great to see the Office for Veterans’ Affairs providing funding to drive forward cutting-edge science and technology that will change lives. Starting with those who have been wounded while serving this country, these initiatives have the potential to be utilised more widely, putting UK healthcare at the forefront of innovation.” 

The OVA will also host a Five Eyes International Ministerial Conference on Veterans and bring together partners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States sharing and discussing the best practice on veterans issues.