The NHS is looking for innovations that will improve early diagnosis of cancer and increase survival rates
"The competition is open to all types of innovations, including but not limited to, medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, digital health solutions, behavioural interventions, software, artificial intelligence or new models of care. Innovations can be tumour specific or multi-cancer." NHS Cancer Programme: Open Call for Funding document
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) will open applications later this month for £15 million funding for new and existing cancer care innovations.
This will be the second call for technologies and ideas from the NHS Cancer Programme, following the success of the first call last year. The funding competition, which is supported by SBRI Healthcare and Accelerated Access Collaborative, will open on 5 April. The closing date for applications is 24 May.
The challenge brief says that the NHS is looking for “innovations or new approaches that will increase the proportion of cancers that are diagnosed at stage one or two.” It adds: “This includes innovations in the broadest possible sense, including behavioural interventions, software, or new models of care.”
The background outlined in the brief states that diagnosing cancer early increases a patient’s chance of survival. In 2019, slightly over half of staged cancers were diagnosed at stage one or two. Tumour types that are typically diagnosed at a later stage include “pancreatic, head and neck, oesophageal, stomach, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and ovarian cancers,” the document says.
Two of the key ambitions of the NHS’s long-term plan in England are that by 2028, 75% of people with cancer will be diagnosed at stage one or two, while 55,000 more people each year will survive their cancer for five years or more.
The funding competition is open to “all types of innovations, including but not limited to, medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, digital health solutions, behavioural interventions, software, artificial intelligence or new models of care. Innovations can be tumour specific or multi-cancer,” the document says. It adds: “Applications from multicancer innovations which could have a bigger impact on early diagnosis rates are particularly welcome.”
Because there is evidence to suggest cancers are diagnosed later in certain Black and Asian ethnic groups in breast, lung and colorectal cancers, the document states: “Applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to consider the impact of their innovation on health inequalities, and applications that will support to address these inequalities are particularly welcomed.”
As an example of previously successful applications, the document cites OpenMedical’s Pathpoint eDerma, a “centralised platform to help diagnose skin cancers. Using smart phones and tablets, dermoscopy images of the suspected skin cancer can be reviewed and triaged immediately, streamlining the patient pathway from referral to diagnosis and treatment.”
Another example is Endoscop-I, which “combines a medical device and software to capture high-definition endoscope images from suspected head and neck cancer patients. These images can then be transferred through a novel management pathway to specialist cancer consultants for a diagnosis within minutes, streamlining the cancer pathway for patients.”
An online briefing about the funding opportunity will take place on 24 February, ahead of a virtual match-making event on 22 March.