2 February 2017
Healthcare SMEs in Lancashire are to benefit from a share of £6.5million investment secured by the Innovation Agency and its partners.

The Innovation Agency has secured £3.5m European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) funding which has been matched by £3m from partner organisations in the region, to support small and medium sized businesses creating innovative healthcare products and services for the NHS.

The European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) funding will be used to support more than 100 Lancashire businesses creating innovative healthcare products for the NHS which will benefit both patients and healthcare professionals.

The Innovation Agency is the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, which acts as a catalyst for health innovation and economic growth.

A dedicated commercial team at the Innovation Agency is working with Lancaster University to help Lancashire businesses to create, develop and launch their healthcare solutions to the NHS.

Support for healthcare SMEs includes clinical evaluation advice and input, procurement, pilot schemes, developing business cases, targeting finance, plus tailored marketing for the NHS with a particular focus on NHS adoption. This is particularly important in light of Lancaster University’s forthcoming Health Innovation Campus, which is due for completion in 2019. 

Innovation Agency Commercial Programme Manager Steve Adams said: “We are delighted to be working with Lancaster University as our delivery partner to drive healthcare innovation in Lancashire. Ultimately this investment will benefit the North West’s population through improved healthcare, additional employment and a healthier local economy.”

The broader ERDF programme is being delivered by the Innovation Agency alongside partner organisations in different parts of the North West. As well as Lancashire, a dedicated commercial team is working with five other partners in the Liverpool City Region; and with the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network in Cheshire.

Lorna Green, Commercial Director at the Innovation Agency, said: “In the past four years, the Innovation Agency has supported more than 100 businesses providing 94 new products and services into the healthcare market.

“We have supported a range of SMEs with innovations which include 100 per cent latex-free surgical gloves which protect against potentially fatal latex allergies; and portable devices to test for atrial fibrillation, with the potential to prevent more than 600 strokes a year in our region.”

One Lancashire innovation which has been supported by the Innovation Agency is technology to improve the care of patients with swallowing difficulties. ‘Tele-Swallowing’, developed by speech and language therapist Veronica Southern, provides video consultations for patients of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals’ Speech and Language Therapy service and a number of nursing homes across the Fylde Coast. 

The Innovation Agency has helped Veronica with funding and with securing collaborations with other trusts and care homes, to spread the benefits to more patients and service providers.