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NIHR awards £5m for a HealthTech Research Centre Network to provide national leadership for the development of medical devices, diagnostics and digital technologies

Published: 16 May 2024

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded £5 million for an NIHR HealthTech Research Centre Network, hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, from 1 September 2024. 

The Network will provide coordination and leadership for the NIHR HealthTech Research Centres (HRCs), supporting the development, evaluation and adoption of innovative health and care technology to support people to live healthier, better quality lives.

What are HealthTech Research Centres?

The HealthTech Research Centres were awarded almost £42 million NIHR funding from 1 April 2024 to drive life-changing research into health and care technologies. 

The 14 HRCs work with companies to develop, evaluate and validate health and care technology to enable people to better monitor their health, diagnose ill health soon and improve the management of conditions. 

The HRCs are located in leading NHS organisations across England. They support the development of innovations that address the nation’s most pressing health and care challenges. These include, but are not limited to:

  • cancer
  • mental health
  • neurodegeneration and dementia
  • ageing
  • respiratory disease
  • cardiovascular conditions

What will the Network do?

The Network will work closely with the 14 HRCs to provide:

  • strategic collaboration between the HRCs and the health and care research system to support the rapid development and adoption of innovations from industry
  • coordination and leadership of cross-HRC initiatives, ensuring the HRCs act cohesively as a national research infrastructure for health technology development
  • proactive support for industry to work with the HRCs to develop innovations which benefit patients, the public and the health and care system
  • a focal point to facilitate links with national partners including MHRA, NICE and NHS England

The Network will also be responsible for driving a collective approach towards: 

  • building capacity for the development and evaluation of health technologies
  • patient and public involvement, engagement and participation
  • research inclusion
  • identifying and addressing health inequalities
  • methodology to support pragmatic generation of evidence for medical devices, diagnostics and digital health and care technologies
  • promoting the HRCs to industry, including SMEs, and providing guidance on developing healthtech to benefit patients within the health and care system, particularly the NHS

Professor Wendy Tindale, Director of the NIHR HRC Network and of the NIHR HRC in Long Term Conditions, said: “It’s a huge privilege to be the lead for the NIHR HealthTech Research Centre Network. Working in partnership with all 14 HRCs will be key to delivering the Network’s ambitions in transforming UK HealthTech into a thriving ecosystem of industry, academia, NHS and stakeholders, collaborating to bring innovative health technologies more rapidly to patients. The range and synergistic experience of the HRCs is vast and there is a real opportunity for this new Network to create a step change in impact.

“Sheffield has an excellent track record of effective leadership, with evidence of leading development of strategic plans and implementing them through collaborative partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including patients and the public, so we are delighted to be bringing these skills to the benefit of the Network.”

The Network will extend across England with a senior leadership team drawn from NHS Trusts in Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford and Devon.

Professor Mike Lewis, NIHR Scientific Director for Innovation, said: “The HRC Network will play a crucial role in ensuring that the HRC scheme works cohesively and effectively, sharing learning internally and driving engagement with industry. As well as providing leadership and coordination across the range of HRC activities, it will champion the UK’s ability to develop, test and deliver exciting new technological solutions that benefit patients, the public and the health and care system, and attract support from the commercial sector.” 

Find out more about the HealthTech Research Centres.

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