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The UK Space Agency has today announced that it is allocating up to £4 million to find hi-tech solutions to the major health and care challenges facing the NHS in its 70th anniversary year in a joint initiative with NHS England.
These challenges, outlined by NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens in his speech to the NHS Confederation conference earlier this month, are:
- Managing long term conditions including joining up health and care services
- Earlier diagnosis of cancer
- Transforming GP services and other primary care
- Meeting mental health needs
Innovators will bid for money to turn technology originally designed for space, from exploration to satellite communications, into medical applications that improve NHS treatment and care.
Up to four applications will receive UK Space Agency funding to develop their ideas along with support and advice from the body, NHS England and the European Space Agency.
Previous examples of space tech being adapted for NHS use include a pill camera that can be swallowed by patients, dementia tracking slippers, breast screening vans that beam images back to assessment centres, wearable monitors to help prevent falls among the elderly and apps that help prevent skin cancer.
Professor Tony Young, NHS England’s national clinical director for innovation, said: “Throughout its 70 year history the NHS has been at the forefront of healthcare innovation.
“Through this competition we are seeking the latest greatest, ideas and technical solutions to help address the modern challenges facing our health and care services.”
The UK’s space industry builds 40 per cent of the world’s small satellites and 25 per cent of the world’s telecommunications satellites. It supports 40,000 jobs and generates £14 billion in revenue across the country.
Emily Gravestock, UK Space Agency head of applications, said: “Britain’s world-leading space sector continues to grow and support vital public services like the NHS with innovative applications. We encourage all businesses and public bodies to consider the role that satellite data can play in tackling some of the biggest challenges we face, as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.”
For more details of how to get involved in this initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.