News, Policy & Media


Major Government investment will speed up patient access to innovative medicines and technology

Innovative UK firms will benefit from a new package of support worth up to £86 million to help them develop real world medical breakthroughs that will help patients across the NHS, the government has announced today.

The package will enable Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) which successfully bid for funding to develop and test new technologies in the NHS. This could include innovations such as digital technologies to help patients manage their conditions from home instead of a hospital, or to develop new medicines.

Access to this funding will also enable business to speed up the time it takes to get new technologies from the lab to patients in the NHS.

Technologies already exist that have received similar support and are bringing benefits to patients. For example, MyCOPD is an online system which helps people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) better manage their condition. It has already helped over 32,000 patients by allowing them to improve breathing, manage flare ups and track medicine use – reducing the reliance on GP and hospital appointments.

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said:

“The Government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible.

“That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – like speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs.

“Our investment in innovation shows how much we value the UK life sciences sector.”

The funding is split into four packages. These include:

£39 million of funding available to the Academic Health Science Networks (ASHNs), enabling them to locally assess the benefits of new technologies and support NHS uptake of those that deliver real benefits to patients according to the local need.

A £35 million Digital Health Technology Catalyst for innovators – this will match fund the development of digital technologies for use by patients and the NHS.

Up to £6 million over the next three years to support SMEs with innovative medicines and devices to get the evidence they need by testing in the real world, building on existing opportunities such as the Early Access to Medicine Scheme (EAMS).

A £6 million Pathway Transformation Fund which will help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into everyday practices - this will help overcome more practical obstacles such as training staff on how to use new equipment.


Business Minister Lord Prior said:

“The Government has an important role to play in driving innovation that will increase economic growth and support businesses across the country. Through this funding we will quicken the pace of scientific discovery and innovation in the UK and our Industrial Strategy we will boost our status a global hub for life sciences.”

This £86m funding is the first step in taking forward the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) – an independently chaired review, which made recommendations to Government on speeding up patient access to new technologies.


1. Funding is being provided jointly by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department of Health.

£35m over four years for a Digital Health Catalyst from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (part of the £197m leading edge healthcare funding announced by BEIS Secretary of State Greg Clark in April 2017).
£21m over three years from other areas of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. (Subject to business case approval).
 £30m over three years from existing Department of Health budgets.

2. The Accelerated Access Review (AAR) was led by an independent Chair, Sir Hugh Taylor, and supported by Sir John Bell. It published its final report on 24th October 2016. The report sets out a vision of the NHS as a system which can embrace innovation to create a win: win for the NHS, innovators and patients.

3. The government and its key delivery partners are currently reviewing the AAR’s other recommendations and will respond in full later this year


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