NHS supports budding entrepreneurs developing voice-recognition app for tackling blood disease

The NHS has selected 138 entrepreneurs to design and deliver new technological solutions and innovations in healthcare. This includes the appointment of five healthcare scientists, tackling conditions including sickle cell disease and allergic reactions.

The Clinical Entrepreneurs Programme, run by NHS England, supports NHS workers to work with, and learn from, leading health and technology industry experts to develop their own innovative ideas. NHS England has confirmed that more NHS staff will be provided with mentoring and other support to improve patient care. Within the first year, Clinical Entrepreneurs recruited to the programme have already launched 50 start-ups, leading to the creation of 344 jobs.

The latest innovations to be supported under the programme include:

  • A voice controlled data collection app for sickle cell patients will be developed that can be worn by patients, to monitor their health, including their heart rate, pain score and medication log every day. The app will mean data can be tracked and processed to help inform patient care for this type of blood disease.
  • The Allergy Assist App will help allergy sufferers come together to share information and support on their condition and treatment.
  • A new online service, sci-connect, will provide tailored online support and resources to undergraduates and junior staff in the early stages of their career who are studying healthcare and biomedical  sciences.

Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation, NHS England, said: “Helping NHS professionals create new and innovative treatments is good for patients and good for our talented staff. Frontline workers have a unique insight into patients’ experiences and supporting all our staff to develop and deliver their ideas for better care will mean better outcomes for patients.”

Professor Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer OBE, said: “Giving budding entrepreneurs in the NHS support and space to create new solutions to old problems will keep the NHS at the forefront of innovation in healthcare. I’m delighted to see even more of our staff join the Clinical Entrepreneurs programme, which will see nearly 140 doctors, nurses and scientists benefit from world-class industry expertise, even as they continue to deliver care for patients.”

Key achievements in the first year of the programme include:

  • In total, Clinical Entrepreneurs have been awarded over £3.7million of public sector funding in the form of grants and seed-funding and have raised over £48m of private sector funding.
  • More than 5.6million patients and professionals used the innovations on the programme, ranging from educational training platforms for medics, providing video consultations with GPs, to medical diagnostic devices.
  • The programme has also supported a brain gain of 34 doctors returning to/staying in the NHS whilst developing their innovations, helping to avoid staff leaving the NHS to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

The clinical entrepreneur programme is an annual programme launched in 2016, after being introduced for junior doctors, was expanded last year to include healthcare scientists and dentists. It provides a mixed package of education and mentoring support from leading medical technology experts to give budding entrepreneurs the business skills and industry ‘know how’ to make their ideas a reality.

Alongside internships and placements, the programme offers regional and national networking events, funding sessions, and commercial educational opportunities including expert webinars, video content, e-learning and flexible university accredited modules.

See Professor Tony Young speak about innovation in the NHS, on the BBC Breakfast show:

Five healthcare scientists

Mr Bala SirigireddyDeveloping a collection application for sickle cell patients

Mr Bala Sirigireddy, Head of haematology and blood transfusion, Homerton University Hospital Foundation trust.

Bala graduated with a BSC and MBA from Katatiya University. Following this he obtained an MSC in Pharmacology & Biotechnology from Sheffield Hallam University in 2002. Bala trained as a specialist in Biomedical Scientist and Laboratory Information Management Systems and is now currently head of haematology and blood transfusion for Homerton University Hospital.

His first business venture was to establish a software training company for a Canadian Charity operating out of south India.

“I see the clinical entrepreneur programme as an amazing opportunity to make national and international level impact in improving healthcare. To be able to innovate new products/services and pathways with the guidance from NHS England is incredible.  This unique opportunity facilitates in networking with likeminded entrepreneurs & industry experts, who are all eager to exchange ideas and make meaningful impact in health service.”

Ms Aliya KaabaOnline training centre and review system

Ms Aliya Kaaba, Locum Specialised Respiratory Physiologist

Aliya began her career in healthcare science by studying for a BSC in respiratory Physiology at Swansea University. She then went on to study for an MRes in Clinical Research which she completed in 2014.

Aliya currently works as a Locum Specialist Respiratory Physiologist which allows her to help provide mentoring and tutoring to undergraduates, postgraduates and junior Physiologists.

“I’ve had this idea for a while now and I was really excited when I found the Clinical Entrepreneurs Programme. Unfortunately at the time it wasn’t available to healthcare scientists and I didn’t know how to start so I just sat on the idea. But you can imagine my excitement when I found out the intake this year would include healthcare scientists. On the programme you are surrounded by other clinicians who are motivated and aren’t afraid to make change which makes it a really inspiring environment and without it, I doubt I would have had the confidence to start the project.”

Mr Uthman AdesinaSci-Connect online resource

Mr Uthman Adesina, Advanced Specialist Biomedical Scientist, Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics. NHS Blood and Transplant, Tooting Laboratory.

Uthman’s career began with him training as a Healthcare Scientist at University Hospitals Cambridge Foundation Trust in 2011, where he passed the (IBMS) Institute of Biomedical Science, certificate of competency. In 2015 Uthman completed the IBMS Specialist Diploma in Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics allowing him to work as an independent practitioner.

Uthman’s career has seen many highlights so far including; earning joint first place in the Young Scientist presentation category at the British Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics conference. Completing the NHS Leadership Academy Edward Jenner Leadership Foundation Programme and becoming a recognised chartered scientist with the Science Council and with IBMS.

In his current role Uthman works to help train junior staff as well as help with clinical interpretations of test results and discussing results with clinicians.

“It is a real honour and privilege to have been selected as part of the first group of scientists accepted on to the Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. I am looking forward to the new challenges I believe this programme will bring me within an environment I have limited experience of and is entirely different to that of my day to day work in NHS transplant laboratory. I’m confident that the programme will provide me with the platform to meet, share my ideas, experiences, and compare practices with highly skilled and talented individuals for the benefit of the NHS. This will be an invaluable learning experience in my career development.”

Dr Anthony RowbottomThe Allergy Assist Application

Dr Anthony Rowbottom, Consultant Clinical Scientist in Immunology. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Anthony’s work in Immunology began when he completed his PHD from the University of London, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School which focused on investigating cytokines following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

Following on from this in 2007 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in Immunology and has sat on the Immunology Specialist Advisory Committee.

Anthony distinguished career has provided over 30 years’ experience of working in the Healthcare Science field, served on numerous national advisory committees and published extensively in the field of clinical immunology.  In his current role he provides professional and clinical leadership to the team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals as a Consultant Scientist in Immunology.

“I am extremely proud of the NHS and believe as an organisation we are ideally placed to drive and lead innovation. Being part of this programme will provide me with a framework and network to facilitate the introduction of change within my organisation and explore commercial opportunities to improve outcomes for patients.”

Professor Paul White

Commercialisation of novel devices for unmet clinical needs

Professor Paul White, Consultant Clinical Scientist & Head of Clinical Engineering. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Paul undertook an MSC in Biomedical Engineering in 1994 and subsequently completed a PhD from Imperial College London in 1998.

Paul has worked across many roles and is currently Head of Clinical Engineering for Cambridge University Hospitals.

His career contains many awards and highlights such as: being awarded the Spiers award by the Institute of Physic and Engineering in Medicine. Winning the Founders prize for outstanding contributions to Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering and receiving an award from the Royal College of Physicians for work on innovative measures of heart function. Alongside this Paul has sat on a variety of senior committees and panels, including being a former vice president of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

In 2017 Paul was awarded The Chief Scientific Officer’s Healthcare Scientist of the Year Award for leadership, innovation and research.

“Being selected onto the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme will hopefully provide me with the skills to adopt and spread the innovative ideas and prototypes developed by my team, in Clinical Engineering Innovation at Cambridge University Hospitals. This will contribute to improving the efficiency and productivity of the NHS as well as allowing patient access to innovative products across the wider NHS.”