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Government awards £32m funding for ‘pioneering’ health tech projects

Science minister Amanda Solloway will announce £32m in funding for six healthcare technology research projects, including artificial robotic muscular assistance and quantum imaging for monitoring

The government is pumping £32m into six healthcare technology projects, with the aim of transforming the way the NHS delivers care.

The funding will be announced by science minister Amanda Solloway during her keynote speech at London Tech Week, and covers a range of research projects across the UK.

Imperial College London will get £5.5m to develop non-invasive single neuron electrical monitoring technology, which will be combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the brain. This will give scientists a new way to understand neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers at the University of Bristol will get £6m to develop artificial robotic muscular assistance, which aims to help build strength in people who have lost muscle capacity. Using robotics, the project aims to overcome current limitations in wearable assistive technology in regenerative medicine.

Announcing the funding, Amanda Solloway is expected to say that the “pioneering projects we are backing today will help modernise healthcare, improving all of our lives now and into the future”. 

“Today’s announcement is part of our ambitious R&D Roadmap and underlines our commitment to back our incredible scientists and researchers and invest in ground-breaking research to keep the UK ahead in cutting-edge discoveries,” she will say.

Solloway will also use her speech to set out the government’s ambitions to use research to ensure the UK is at the “forefront of transformational technologies” such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Other projects receiving funding include University of Glasgow, which is getting £5.5m to use quantum imaging for monitoring to create a home of the future, using clinically approved sensors in the house to monitor blood flow, heart rate and brain function; and Edinburgh Napier University, which will get £3.2m to develop hearing aids that can autonomously adapt to their surroundings.

Commenting on the funding, innovation minister James Bethell said that the NHS has done an amazing job treating patients throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“These pioneering new projects will help us further improve care for patients and make life easier for NHS staff, cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in research and technology and ultimately saving thousands of lives,” he said.

The projects are part of the government’s ambition to improve healthcare technologies and changing the way healthcare is delivered by 2050.

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) has recently opened up for proposals for further “adventourous projects”, with up to £6m available. The EPSRC is aiming to fund around 20 projects over a 15-month period. The call for proposals is part of the council’s second phase of the Transformative Healthcare Technologies for 2050 project, which it launched in March 2019.

Read more about NHS and technology

  • Health secretary Matt Hancock has outlined how the NHS will continue to leverage digital technologies with the help of the private sector after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
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  • NHS Digital has been racing to ensure the systems and protocols are in place to prepare the health service for the coronavirus. We speak to its CEO about the preparations.

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