The BBC’s entrepreneurial television show, Dragon’s Den, has been the unlikely inspiration behind a northern commissioning group’s tech funding.

Salford Clinical Commissioning Group invited innovators to pitch their ideas and win up to £125,000 to fund a 12 month test of an idea, product or service.

The five month process, which saw an initial 124 applications whittled down to four winners, included a call out, marketplace event, and then a pitch and Q&A for the shortlisted final six.

Tina Dixon, senior manager innovation and research at the CCG, said the winners were chosen for multiple reasons with “really good alignment with our strategic priorities as number one”.

Dixon said the process allowed Salford to choose technologies that were personalised to the CCG.

“It firmed up the whole process of innovation, and how we link it with our strategic intentions.”

The four winners were a behavioural change app to promote exercise, an electronic pharmacy referral platform, a mental health app for young people and a digital platform to help prevent falls in patient’s homes.

The CCG worked with Trustech, an NHS innovation unit, to run the project after Trustech did a similar initiative in neighbouring Oldham.

Dixon said the CCG intends to run the event again as it was “really positive from our point of view”.

Start ups and new companies have often struggled to get their technology into the NHS.

NHS England’s latest attempt to attract medical innovations in is the resurrected app library, that is due to be launched in beta form at the end of March.

The full version, expected to go live in September, will have five apps that include the private video consultation service, Babylon Health.

Both Babylon Health, and competitor Dr Now, were also the first two digital GP services to be given a provisional clean bill of health by the Care Quality Commission in October last year.

Simon Stevens, NHS England’ chief executive, has also announced an Innovation and Technology Tariff in June 2016, with the winners revealed in November last year, from the 119 applicants.

Six innovations were picked that included medical interventions technologies and an app to improve self-management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Salford has an innovation funding stream that financed the scheme.

The four medical technologies chosen by Salford are:

  • The Guardian Angel Project by the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust,  a digital platform to help those at risk of falls live more safely in their own homes
  • Improving Pharmacy Communications in Transition of Care, again by the trust, which is an integrated electronic pharmacy referral platform
  • Salford Active Walk by BetterPoints Ltd. which is a behavioural change app to encourage exercise
  • Salford CTZN app for young people by Social Sense, a mental health app for young people