SBRI Healthcare awards £4.9m in innovation funding across learning disability and maternity care

SBRI Healthcare, in collaboration with partners including the Health Innovation Network, has awarded almost £5 million in funding for innovations across learning disability and maternity care, with five innovations for maternity care receiving a portion of £2.5 million and a further five innovations awarded a share of £2.4 million for work in support of autistic people and those with a learning disability.

The funding follows initiatives originally launched by SBRI in May 2022, which aimed to identify innovations focusing on a range of priorities including early identification and diagnosis, health inequalities and access to care and access to effective support for people with autism and learning disabilities; and perinatal mental health, post-discharge support and risk identification and stratification for maternity care. Phase one saw 10 innovations in each category awarded six-month funding to demonstrate “technical and commercial viability”, whilst the second and current phase will look to enable “12 months of development and prototype evaluation prior to real-world implementation”.

In maternity care, innovations receiving funding include Latchaid Ltd’s app utilising AI and 3D interactive tech to provide personalised education for antenatal and postnatal support; the Real Birth Company Limited’s digital programme aiming to enhance equality of access by providing “hyper-personalised childbirth information tailored for marginalised groups”; and Damibu Feeds, providing “hyper-localisation” research on digital health to address maternal health inequalities.

In autism and learning disability care, the innovations selected include Maldaba’s web-based digital system designed to support patients with learning disabilities to be more involved in their annual health checks and health improvement with sharing of progress tracking; Little Journey’s “digital psycho-education support tool” for neurodivergent young people, incorporating interactive elements such as virtual tours and therapeutic games for children undergoing health-related procedures; and a virtual reality programme designed by Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and oVRcome, which aims to help overcome anxieties around healthcare situations.

Also from funding, Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) has announced eleven winners for its first Irish FemTech call to industry, which sought innovations addressing issues in women’s health with the 11 winners including innovators with solutions such as apps to track symptoms, wearable solutions, and a chatbot for answers to questions on menopause.

Elsewhere, a new round of funding has been announced in a competition for innovations as part of the NHS Cancer programme to support cancer treatment and care, with focus on early detection and diagnosis.