UK government invests £32m in health tech projects

The UK government is to invest £32 million ($41.5 million) in six health technology projects aiming to transform care for debilitating diseases such as cancer and osteoarthritis.

Projects include a novel artificial intelligence (AI) X-ray scanner to diagnose cancer and osteoarthritis more effectively and robotic muscles to assist those who have suffered from a stroke.

The scheme is part of a commitment to help advance healthcare outcomes through its Research and Development Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024 to 2025.

Science minister Amanda Solloway announced the projects as part of the London Tech Week 2020, focusing on transforming care and treatments in the NHS by 2050, to improve quality of life as people age.

Projects receiving funding include InlightenUs, led by the University of Edinburgh, which will receive £5.4 million to use a combination of AI and infra-red lasers to produce fast, high resolution 3D medical images, helping to identify diseases in patients more quickly.

Another of the six projects, emPOWER, will be led by researchers at the University of Bristol, and will receive £6 million to develop artificial robotic muscular assistance to help restore strength in people who have lost muscle capability.

A project led by Imperial College London will receive £5.5 million to develop a Non-Invasive Single Neuron Electrical Monitoring technology, which when combined with AI will allow researchers to monitor the brain remotely.

This could help scientists gain a better understanding of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, replacing current invasive techniques and helping to find new drugs and technology-based treatments.

Edinburgh Napier University will receive £3.2 million, to develop hearing aids designed to autonomously adapt to the nature and quality of their surroundings.

A project by the University of Glasgow will receive £5.5 million to develop a “home of the future” project that gives feedback to occupants on their health and wellbeing.

And a joint project led by Heriot-Watt University in partnership with the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh, is to receive £6.1 million to exploit new laser, optical fibre and imaging technologies to deliver therapies for bacterial and viral diseases in confined regions of the body such as the lungs.

Janita Good, co-head of life sciences and corporate lawyer at legal firm Fieldfisher, said: “This financial backing is sure to be met with venture capital investment, which will help pave out the way for the UK’s healthtech industry, helping to expand the products and services the UK offers and better compete on the international market and also make the UK an attractive market for international life sciences companies.”

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