Government backs small business with £5 million funding boost


The Department of Health has today announced £5 million of funding for small businesses to come up with new products or services that will help improve the experience of people with mental health illnesses and people at the end of their life.

This funding is part of the Government’s commitment to help improve care for patients with long-term conditions and ensure high quality care and support offered to dying people in their final days and hours. The two new competitions, with a total of up to £5 million of funding, are looking for ideas that can improve the experience for older people at the end of their life or improve the experience for people with mental health illnesses.

Health Minister, Lord Howe said: “We need to find new ways of treating and supporting people with mental illnesses and need to ensure those approaching the end of their life are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best care and support.

“Small businesses, play a crucial role in providing creative and innovative solutions to existing problems. That’s why we are supporting them through our £5 million funding to tackle these challenges and make a difference to patient’s lives.”

Mental health illnesses are the single largest cause of disability in the UK. At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. The Government’s ‘No health without mental health’ outcomes strategy highlights the importance of tackling the inequalities that lead to poor mental health but also the unique and varied challenges associated with the illness. This competition calls for creative ideas and technologies that could mean mental illnesses are diagnosed earlier, better management of the disease with a more tailored approach to care. The other competition focuses on how new technologies can help people have a better experience of end of life care. Ideas could include new technologies that provide greater comfort and help with managing pain.

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, said: “The NHS can be proud of the innovation it has introduced into the care of patients across England but we need to get smarter at making it easy for others to adopt.  Technologies that can give people a better end of life or improve the management of mental illness could make a real difference to many.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: “These new competitions represent the next step in the continued engagement of the Department of Health and the NHS in SBRI showing the value that they can get from engaging with industry, taking the role of lead customer and securing new and novel solutions to intractable problems while at the same time encouraging British business.“

These competitions are part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a cross-government initiative that aims to promote UK economic growth whilst addressing public sector needs. Previous SBRI competitions called for technological and innovative solutions to change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases and solutions to improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed. Contracts have now been awarded to the successful organisations and work is now underway to turn these innovative ideas into commercialisation stage and ultimately NHS adoption.

Competition details

The application process is run through Health Enterprise East, the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England. All applications should be made using the application forms, which can be downloaded from

Please email your forms to by 1200hrs on 28 February 2013

Key dates

Competition launch

3rd January 2013

Deadline for applications

28 February 2013

Useful Links

Innovation, Health and Wealth

The Technology Strategy Board

SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative)


To read more information, click here.

Health Enterprise East (HEE) delivers technology advisory and innovation management services to industry and the NHS.

Health Enterprise East