SBRI Healthcare national competition launched to find new innovative solutions in mental health and technology in surgery

A new SBRI Healthcare competition is being launched by NHS England in partnership with the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to find innovative new products and services in mental health and technology in surgery.

Following ever-increasing pressure on mental health and surgical services, challenges in delivering treatment and therapies, the cost of patient waiting times and delivering surgery, innovative projects will be selected primarily on their potential value to the health service and on the improved outcomes delivered for patients.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health reported that mental health problems account for a quarter of all ill health in the UK; that one in four adults will experience mental health problems each year. Furthermore, mental health problems have an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year – approximately the cost of the entire NHS.

This year’s follow up to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health report observed that 120,000 more people are now receiving specialist mental health treatment compared to 3 years ago, including over 20,000 more children and young people.

Over a ten year period, the number of surgical admissions to secondary care increased by 27%, from 3.7 million in 2003/04 to 4.7 million in 2013/14[1]. There are over three thousand NHS operating theatres in England, 19% of which are dedicated day case theatres and annual expenditure on surgery in the NHS has been estimated at £4.5 billion (2013).

In order to reduce the costs incurred by surgical admissions, there has been a trend towards having both elective and non-elective procedures carried out as day cases. Other examples of reducing the length of stay following surgery (as well as patient outcomes) include the use of surgical techniques which are minimally invasive, the deployment of robotic systems and virtual reality-based training.

Another approach to reducing the costs of surgery is to deploy frugal innovation, which involves taking an established tool or work practice and developing a new and more cost-effective way of deploying it.

There are lots of potential technologies available that have the capability to help patients with mental health issues. What is lacking is new interventions and transformative technologies that can augment existing treatments by improving their efficacy, engagement and delivery. Emerging evidence from some vanguard sites suggests that integrated approaches to mental health can help to support improved performance across the wider health system.

If successful, applicants can receive up to £100,000 (including VAT) of funding for phase one (feasibility) and up to £1 million (including VAT) for phase two (development) for solutions that match the needs of the NHS.

SBRI Healthcare is hosted by Eastern Academic Health Science Network.

We are grateful to South West, West of England and Wessex AHSN leading the mental health competition. The ‘technology in surgery’ competition is being led by North West Coast and East Midlands AHSNs.

The competition opens on 19 October 2017. The deadline for applications is 1200hrs on 29 November 2017.

Briefing Events

The following three briefing events have been scheduled for attendees to receive further details concerning the competition specification, the application process, support available to companies and the opportunity to present questions to the panel. Click on the appropriate links to register your attendance.

Bristol – Tuesday 24 October, 13:30-16:30
Doubletree by Hilton, Bristol City Centre, Redcliffe Way, Bristol, BS1 6NJ
Click here to register

Nottingham – Tuesday 31 October, 9:30 – 12:30pm
Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Innovation Park, Triumph Road, Nottingham, NG7 2TU
Click here to register

Liverpool – Friday 3 November, 8:30 – 11:00
Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, L14 5NA
Click here to register

Find out more

For more information and to apply, visit

If you have any questions, you can contact a member of the SBRI Healthcare team on 01223 928040 or via email

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