An NHS-backed competition has awarded eight late-stage innovation projects a total of £9m in funding to develop cancer diagnosis technologies.
The funding was awarded by SBRI Healthcare, an NHS improvement initiative that has supported over 200 companies to develop technologies designed to address unmet health needs.
SBRI Healthcare, in partnership with the NHS Cancer Programme and the Accelerated Access Collaborative, awarded the funding to projects that “advance earlier and faster diagnosis of cancer”.
Technologies that secured the funding include image diagnostic software, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based services.
The largest funding allocation went to Qure.ai, which received £3.2m to test its chest X-ray AI technology. The company said it will conduct a research programme to analyse the detection of long nodules on chest X-rays, which can indicate lung cancer is present.
“Identifying it at earlier stages impacts survival rates positively and allows for the ability to use less toxic treatment or intervention,” said Prashant Warier, CEO and co-founder of Qure.ai. “However, this is difficult because of varying protocols and immense workloads. The use of AI technologies can help in early detection of potentially cancerous nodules from chest X-rays.
Warier added: “It can also help in incidental finding of nodules earlier for asymptomatic patients. Early identification can lead to faster diagnosis through same-day CT scans.”
Open Medial, a London-based startup using the cloud to optimise clinical workflows, received just over £1m in funding.
Medical device company Endoscop-i was awarded £424,000 for its endoscope app and adapter that turns an iPhone into an endoscopic camera.
Other projects and organisations to receive funding include The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Pinpoint Data Science, The Newcastle Upon Tyne HNFT, Orion Medtech Ltd C.I.C and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
The funding is designed to accelerate the rollout of the projects into clinical and healthcare settings. SBRI said it is launching a second competition this spring.