In a boost for northern UK health tech innovation, applications opened this week for Yorkshire and the Humber’s first digital health accelerator – backed by NHS England and leading regional health innovators.
Yorkshire and the Humber – home to NHS Digital HQ – has long been seen as a powerhouse for UK health tech innovation. Now the region has its own digital health accelerator programme, aimed at helping startups and other innovators grow and link to the NHS – and so turbo-charge northern digital health innovation.
The new [email protected] accelerator is a collaboration between NHS England-backed Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and people-centred health innovation agency mHabitat. mHabitat, founded by Victoria Betton, leads the delivery of the accelerator programme.
Organisers say they have created [email protected] to “provide innovative organisations developing digital health solutions with access to a structured course of support and advice aimed at helping them navigate the NHS”, at the same time as enabling accelerated company growth and increased market presence.
The new accelerator adds to the London-based NHS Innovation Accelerator, which launched in 2015 and a Digital Health London accelerator that also operates to speed up digital innovation in the health service.
The [email protected] programme is open to all SMEs that can demonstrate innovative digital and patient solutions and have either an existing presence in the Yorkshire & the Humber region, or are willing to establish one.
It promises to provide a “unique and tailored set of advisory, guidance and support services to enable global organisations to bring innovative digital health and patient solutions to the region’s population and the wider health economy”.
Six organisations will be chosen to take part in the six-month accelerator, which will include masterclasses, digital innovator surgeries and events focused on human-related design, clinical safety by design and understanding NHS procurement.
They will also have access to expert partners – including NHS providers and commissioners, academic institutions, primary and secondary care organisations – and receive mentorship and one-to-one support on marketing, law and finance. Patient representatives will also be involved, helping the cohortdevelop a patient-centred, co-designed approach to their work.
A further six organisations will receive an associate support package, including access to selected courses and sessions.
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN is one of 15 academic health science networks set up by NHS England as the key innovation arm of the NHS. Chief executive Richard Stubbs (pictured) said: “The NHS long-term plan announced last week re-established the importance of using state-of-the-art technological advances to improve outcomes for patients and the need to speed up the digital innovation pipeline to help to sustain the NHS for the future.
“The Yorkshire and Humber region is a hotbed of digital innovation and an ideal place to start and grow a business; where entrepreneurial innovators are not only leading the way in digital healthcare technology, they’re also generating economic growth and creating employment opportunities.”