NHS England has invited small businesses to bid for up to £1.1 million to develop innovative products and services for improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.

The latest round of the Small Business Research Initiative will fund projects in three areas: children and young people’s mental health; depression, self-harm and suicide; and new models of care.

A competition brief published by NHS England and SBRI Healthcare on 23 October suggests some objectives that projects could aim to fulfil. They include: improving early diagnosis; using computer games and virtual reality to support mental health; developing technology to facilitate monitoring and interventions; or using big data and artificial intelligence to understand patterns to allow earlier intervention in mental health.

The competition will operate in two phases. In the first, around 10 businesses will each receive up to £100,000 for a six-month project to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed concept.

Around five projects will progress to phase two of the competition. They will each receive £1m to fully develop their proposed product or service.

Applicants should consider how their proposed project will affect the clinical care pathway, and how to ensure that the technology will be accepted by both patients and healthcare workers, according to the competition brief. They should also ensure that the technology is affordable for the NHS, it said.

The deadline for applications is 29 November.


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