A new collaborative approach to encouraging business innovation in Scotland has resulted in six Scottish SMEs winning new contracts.
The firms will be working with NHS Scotland to help drive treatment and patient innovation in dermatology, diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Scottish companies have secured over 50% of the research and development funding awarded to UK companies - a total of £345,000 - as part of the recent open innovation competitions. Further competitive funding will be available for successful companies that move to the next phases of the dermatology and IBD competitions.
These competitions are designed to open up traditional procurement processes to look for new solutions from a wide range of businesses that can help drive new revenue streams, and at the same time address big service challenges faced by the NHS and public sector organisations.
This new open innovation approach will deliver £1.35m 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 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)
Open innovation is an established approach used globally to encourage collaboration to develop solutions to defined challenges. 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.
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 we 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.
“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.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for business, innovation and energy, said: “Scotland has recently moved into the top quartile of countries in the European Union, as regards the proportion of innovation active businesses. However, we are committed to doing even more to boost the level of investment in innovation, including providing £400,000 of financial support to this SBRI project, to champion health innovation which is an important driver of sustainable economic growth. I offer my congratulations to these companies which have demonstrated their ability to develop and commercialise new ideas in the health sector, as, in doing so, they are helping patients and the NHS alike.”
Dr Pradeep Ramayya, CEO at AxSys Technology Ltd, said: “The SBRI project is a great step forward in supporting young adults with Diabetes Type 1 and we are delighted to be selected to participate in its final phase. Our aim is to continue to develop our innovative technology to address the very real challenges faced by individuals with long term conditions.
“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 & Founder, Cohesion Medical Ltd, said: “Cohesion is delighted to have been a successful award winner for the SBRI Dermatology and the SBRI IBD competitions. As a young Scottish SME specialising in Connected Digital Health solutions, we are excited about the emerging opportunities of developing our technology to optimise clinical workflow and enhance patient experience in these specialisms.
“The value of the SBRI is in facilitating a level of user engagement with NHS Scotland which would have been difficult to access otherwise. Creating commercial opportunities for Cohesion to sustain high-skilled employment for developing technology solutions for global healthcare markets is another major benefit. We look forward to progressing solutions for both dermatology and IBD over the coming months and participating in further SBRI competitions.”
Dr Craig Robertson, CEO at Epipole Ltd, said: “We’re delighted that Epipole Ltd has been awarded phase 1 feasibility funding in the NHS Scotland's Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) dermatology competition. Our proposal, which utilises our in-house image processing and algorithm development skills, will benefit from the close collaboration during development we will receive working with NHS specialists. This funding will allow us to continue to develop our novel Class 1 medical imaging device proposal through our ISO13485 and EN62304 processes in support of NHS (Scotland) dermatology services.”
Paul McGinness, director at Storm ID, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Dermatology SBRI programme. The project has great buy-in from senior NHS clinicians and it fits well with our focus on developing new, digitally enabled services for healthcare. It also represents a great opportunity to leverage our growing machine learning capability into the design of a new service.”