A new informatics hub developed by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) will be kick-started with a £1million fund from NHS Digital.

The unit, called DRIVE (Digital, Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments) has been developed as part of a partnership between GOSH, University College London (UCL) and leading firms in the technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital innovation spaces.

NHS Digital is also collaborating on the project, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out the terms of the agreement with GOSH.

The MOU is intended to form a template for an “ongoing broader partnership” over the next five years.

It also reveals an initial contribution of £1m will be made by NHS Digital for “fit out, equipment and infrastructure costs” associated with the project. Digital Health News understands the funding has not been transferred yet but it is hoped this will be done before March 2019.

In return, NHS Digital CEO Sarah Wilkinson will sit on a digital strategy steering group, which will be tasked with shaping the direction of the DRIVE programme.

NHS Digital will also have a role in deciding which projects will be taken on by DRIVE.

DRIVE is described as being a “hot-house” for healthcare technology exploration, as well as a “launchpad” for concepts that can be scaled-up by NHS Digital through regional and local programmes.

Wilkinson said her team was “incredibly excited” for the potential of DRIVE.

“The NHS needs a dramatic acceleration in digitisation in order to be able to deliver to its full potential,” she added.

“There is much opportunity in leveraging proven commodity technologies, with little customisation, to address key digitisation challenges and I am certain that when we bring those who understand the need together with those who have already designed and delivered applicable technologies, we will be able to create new fast lanes in our digital programs”.

Other partners of DRIVE include Arm, Barclays, Microsoft, NHS Digital, NTT DATA and Samsung.

The five-year-project will cost £15million with funding being supplied by all of the supporting partners.

Projects that have already been started include transforming the whole of GOSH into a playable world in popular video game, Minecraft.

This allows young patients to virtually explore the hospital before they visit and meet and befriend other GOSH patients.