The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare has awarded £1million to ten medical technology and digital innovations which have been designed to support the delivery of a net zero NHS.

Set up by NHS England and NHS Improvement, SBRI Healthcare aims to fast track innovations that have the ability to solve an unmet health and care need. 

In partnership with the Greener NHS Programme, SBRI Healthcare launched the second NHS Chief Sustainability Clinical Fellowship Scheme – the first to focus on a net zero NHS. The scheme enables those in clinical roles to spend 12 months away from clinical practice and work with teams across the NHS to lead projects that accelerate the path to a net zero health service.

Dr Glenn Wells, chair of the SBRI Panel, said: “Delivering a net zero NHS is a key ambition to tackle within the healthcare system and it was great to see so many diverse innovations applying to the SBRI Healthcare programme to make an impact on the carbon emissions and align themselves to the NHS ambitions and more generally, commit to sustainable changes.

“We’ve seen some innovative digital tools that will ultimately drive reduction in care miles or that can be used as educational materials to enable greener decision making. We look forward to seeing how the SBRI Healthcare funding can support the Net Zero targets and enable the development and assessment of promising solutions.”

The awarded projects will run for up to six months with the aim of being able to demonstrate that the innovations are technically feasible and can have an impact on carbon reductions. Further funding for prototype development and evaluation will be available to innovations that can prove their potential.

One of the projects involved is former Pitchfest finalist, Concentric Health which was awarded £99,175 which will go towards its digital consent platform with the aim to explore the feasibility of introducing carbon impact into shared decision-making conversations between patients and clinicians.

CEO, Dr Dafydd Loughran, told Digital Health News: “These projects, from a first of kind call for ‘Net-zero’ focussed innovations and ideas, will accelerate the NHS’s path towards sustainability, trigger other great innovations, and set the path forward in the UK and abroad, for the sake of our planet.

“The timing is important, we are all increasingly aware that we face a climate emergency unless drastic action is taken, and the successful transformation seen in healthcare during the pandemic has highlighted the opportunities to innovate. Today’s announcement is an important step in the innovation journey towards net-zero healthcare.”

The remaining projects taking part in SBRI Healthcare’s Delivering a Net Zero NHS winning projects are:

  • Elegant Design and Solutions Ltd (£99,703) – for Envirolieve, a portable breathing system which significantly reduces Entonox consumption at the point of use, reducing risks to the environment and healthcare staff.
  • Rutherford Research Ltd (£99,689) – for Revolution-ZERO, a project to develop effective and sustainable solutions to replace disposable PPE, drapes and other textiles used during surgical procedures.
  • Green Rewards Limited ( £99,076) – for the Jump project, a green rewards scheme to motivate staff to make low carbon decisions at home and work.
  • Primum Digital Limited (£99,546) – for CrossCover, a range of web applications designed to help clinicians make the best low-carbon decisions at every patient encounter.
  • Open Medical (£99,556) – for Pathpoint SurgiCare, a cloud-based workflow solution that can share information pre- and post-op, reducing the need for patients to come into the hospital.
  • Yewmaker (£83,370) – for MCF Classifier, an evidence-based tool supporting low-carbon decision making in medicines procurement and prescription.
  • Apian Limited (£99,967) – for Project Angel, a scheme to use drones to deliver greener, faster and smarter healthcare to patients in the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
  • TCC-CASEMIX (£97,364) – for PredictOR Carbon Analytics, a carbon registry for clinicians, procurement teams, surgical services managers and patients to reduce carbon emissions in surgical pathways.
  • Ufonia (£98,796) for Dora, an autonomous telemedicine triage that can offer alternatives to hospitals visits to increase the sustainability of hospital referrals.

The long-term aim of the programme is for successful technologies to be adopted by the NHS if they can deliver benefits to patients and the NHS, while also supporting the NHS to reach its Net Zero ambition, as set out by the Greener NHS Programme.

Matt Whitty, director at NHS England and NHS Improvement, added: “The SBRI Healthcare awards supports the NHS to develop technologies and solutions to address some of the biggest healthcare challenges facing society. 

“The fantastic range of solutions to reduce carbon emissions being announced today is a great example of the game changing potential of innovation. By supporting the most promising innovations the NHS will continue to evolve, helping  meet more patients needs and encouraging more innovators to  come forward with ideas that make a difference.”

It’s not the only scheme looking to support innovation around achieving the Net Zero target. Last summer, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) launched its inaugural green accelerator programme, Propel@YH Net Zero.