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NIHR supports second wave of small business medtech innovations

Published: 03 May 2019

The NIHR has awarded more than £1 million to nine innovative medical technology projects led by small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) that have the potential to improve outcomes for NHS patients.

The funded projects include a portable headband for brain imaging in traumatic injury, under development by London-based SME Cortirio, and an implanted medical device to standardise how amputated limbs connect to external prosthetics, developed by Cambridge company BIOS.

The nine projects are funded by the second round of NIHR Invention for Innovation’s (i4i) Connect funding stream for medtech SMEs.

The scheme offers funding to SMEs in need of a financial boost to reach the next stage in the development pathway, to help de-risk innovations by UK companies and accelerate development of promising medical technologies.

Martin Hunt, director of the NIHR i4i programme, said: “This new round of funding will help nine more medtech companies get on their feet and ready for bigger and better funding opportunities, supporting a thriving corner of the UK economy. By focusing specifically on medtech SMEs, the NIHR is supporting the government’s goal for faster access and uptake of new technologies in the NHS.”

AlphaBiomics, a biotech start up that is developing precision medicine solutions to improve drug efficacy, is one of the SMEs that successfully won funding in the second round of i4i Connect. Marcus Rauch, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at AlphaBiomics, said: "This i4i Connect funding will enable us to achieve early-stage technological and business milestones and build organizational momentum, increasing the probability we'll be able to secure follow-on funding and accelerating the development of our innovative new products to help patients with unmet medical needs."

The i4i Connect scheme focuses on research and development of medical devices, active implantable devices and in vitro diagnostic devices, across all areas of existing or emerging healthcare needs. The two-stage application process involves an expression of interest and short business plan, which are reviewed by a panel of commercial, clinical and academic experts.

Patrick Beldon, CEO of Cortirio, said: “The i4i Connect scheme is a really good one because it has a much shorter timescale between writing the application and getting the money. This really helps us out because when we’re planning a project, we’re often forecasting quite a long way down the line. The longer the time is between planning and project start, the more things change.”

The nine projects funded by i4i Connect round 2 are:

  • Autonomous and real-time dose monitoring for radiotherapy patients - Cheyney Design & Development Ltd
  • Rapid, sensitive detection of resistance to therapeutic antibodies - Camstech Ltd
  • Portable brain imaging for point-of-care diagnosis of traumatic brain injury - Cortirio Ltd
  • Design and prototyping of a multi-channel sample cartridge for a novel UTI antimicrobial susceptibility testing device - Vitamica Ltd
  • Integrated carotid and brain MRI RF coil for improved diagnosis of stroke and neurovascular disease - PulseTeq Ltd
  • Scoping Investigation for a Prosthetic Interface Device - BIOS (previously called Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems Ltd)
  • Optimisation of a novel silk-based hemodialysis graft promising smooth performance without compromise - Oxford Biomaterials Ltd
  • Development of a Deep Learning powered software for automating the Nottingham Grading System for rapid, accurate and reproducible breast cancer grading - DeepMed IO Ltd
  • Harnessing the microbiome for precision medicine using advanced multi-omics analytics - Alpha Biomics Ltd

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