Six Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises have successfully won new contracts with NHS Scotland to help drive treatment and patient innovation in dermatology, diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The new collaboration is to encourage business innovation in Scotland. It will deliver £1.35 million of collaborative funding from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government’s innovation and healthcare teams to support companies participating in these competitions.

The competitions are run by NHS Scotland, in conjunction with Innovate UK as part of its Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) mechanism to fund UK business innovation.

The companies that have secured funding include AxSys Technology in Glasgow (diabetes), Cohesion Medical Ltd in Glasgow (dermatology and IBD), Digital Treetop Ltd in Perth (IBD) and Epipole Ltd in Rosyth (dermatology).

Pradeep Ramayya, CEO at AxSys Technology Ltd said the project is a great step forward in supporting young adults with Diabetes Type 1. The company is developing a mobile app to support young adults with Type 1 diabetes by providing useful and timely notifications, educational information and assessments to help them better manage their blood glucose levels through review and learning from their own data.

“Our aim is to continue to develop our innovative technology to address the very real challenges faced by individuals with long-term conditions”, Ramayya said.  “Our success in being selected for the final phase of the SBRI Diabetes project follows hot on the heels of our other recent contract wins in the UK and abroad.”

“All of these wins demonstrate that our Excelicare platform and the integrated myCarepod health app is increasingly being recognised as an ideal patient-centric solution for a wide and diverse range of clinical settings.”

Euan Cameron, CEO and founder of Cohesion Medical Ltd, said as a young Scottish SME specialising in Connected Digital Health solutions, they are excited about the emerging opportunities of developing their technology to optimise clinical workflow and enhance patient experience in these specialisms.

Scottish companies have secured more than 50% of the research and development funding awarded to UK companies – a total of £345,000 – as part of the recent open innovation competitions.

According to a press statement issued by Scottish Enterprise, these competitions are designed to help address big service challenges faced by the NHS and public-sector organisations.

The companies that have secured funding are:

  • AxSys Technology in Glasgow (diabetes)
  • Cohesion Medical Ltd in Glasgow (dermatology and IBD)
  • Digital Treetop Ltd in Perth (IBD)
  • Epipole Ltd in Rosyth (dermatology)
  • OpenBrolly Health in Elgin (IBD)
  • Storm ID in Edinburgh (dermatology)

“Companies respond with their ideas to defined public sector citizen or societal challenges and, if successful, are fully funded to progress their ideas through feasibility, prototype and/or demonstrator stages”, the press release said.

“As the businesses retain full intellectual property, they are free to develop and exploit their product or service further by offering it to other customers and taking it to other markets, making this an ideal way to encourage smaller businesses to innovate more.”

Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise services at Scottish Enterprise, said using open innovation means they can help with two of Scotland’s business and healthcare challenges – “get more businesses innovating and find new creative solutions to patient care.”

“We’re making excellent progress in encouraging more Scottish SMEs to embrace innovation to open up new global revenue stream opportunities for them”, Watson said.

“It’s fantastic to see Scottish companies securing more than half of the NHS Scotland R&D funding, but we’re keen to get even more Scottish SMEs involved in other open innovation competitions.”

“We currently have 10 live competitions from City of Edinburgh Council, Carbon Trust and Stena Line on our website, all looking for innovative ideas to solve challenges.  I’d encourage businesses to visit the website, read about the challenges and respond.  Open innovation is a powerful route for SMEs to collaborate with large organisations and receive funding to develop their ideas.”

Facts and figures

Dermatology competition

  • Estimates indicate more than 4000 deaths each year in Scotland are due to a related skin disease – other conditions such as eczema and psoriasis often have long-term negative impact on an individual’s quality of life
  • The £450,000 dermatology competition aims to find ways to have more diagnosis and ongoing management of skin conditions away from the conventional clinic setting
  • Contracts have been awarded to three Scottish SMEs with another two contracts going to SMEs in Wales and England, GP Commissioning Solutions Ltd and Cadscan Ltd respectively

Diabetes competition

  • Type 1 diabetes is a condition which affects around 30,000 people across Scotland and requires them to manage their health in a number of areas, including insulin control, carbohydrate counting and foot care
  • Following diagnosis they are offered courses through the NHS to learn how to manage their condition, but some people find them difficult to attend and may forget some of the information they’re given
  • To supplement these existing education programmes, NHS Scotland designed an open innovation competition to find a new mobile health product, which could be an app, a new interface or a new device, with up to £500,000 to award to companies with innovation solutions

IBD Competition

  • IBD is a relapsing and remitting condition so patients may not display any symptoms or require any specific assistance at the time of their routine outpatient appointment
  • This is not a productive use of time for either patients or NHS staff
  • The £400,000 IBD competition is designed help address these challenges by develop new and innovative technologies to help patients monitor and manage their condition themselves
  • Three Scottish SMEs have been selected for funding through the competition’s first phase: OpenBrolly Health in Elgin, Cohesion Medical Ltd in Glasgow and Digital Treetop Ltd in Perth.  A further two companies in Dynamic Health Systems Services Ltd from Bradford and Oviva UK Limited from London have also been selected for funding