New funding stream for SMEs welcomed

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) has welcomed the news that the National Institute for Health Research’s Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is to launch a new funding stream aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The programme will launch on August 16 and will provide eligible SMEs with a funding boost to reach the next stage in the development pathway.

Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive Officer at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “Speeding up access to ground-breaking medical technology is a vital component of a transformed, sustainable NHS. Our SME innovators are developing the health technologies of our future and funding, such as i4i Connect, will support them by bridging the gap between early stage development and market readiness.”

i4i Connect is offering up to £150,000 over a 6-12 months period to help SMEs get to the point of eligibility for a full i4i award or, down the line, follow on funding. This will enable accelerated development of promising medical technologies in line with recommendations from the Accelerated Access Review

Martin Hunt, NIHR i4i Programme Director said: “i4i Connect will provide a maximum of £150,000 short term funding for SMEs with innovative technologies in the pipeline. The funding will help SMEs to the next stage of funding or investment, supporting accelerated development to ultimately ensure these technologies reach patients sooner.”

The i4i programme is a translational funding scheme advancing healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need. The aim is to de-risk projects, making them attractive to follow -on funders and investors. I4i Connect will provide a pathway into a full programme of i4i funding, supporting SMEs in this process.

In addition, engagement with SMEs has identified that, on completion of a project, there is a gap in funding for teams who find they do not have all the data to effectively access the follow-on funding marketplace – predominantly made up with angel, venture capital and corporate enterprises. I4i Connect will support teams through this stage of development, with a fast turnaround of funding, an element known to be key for SMEs requiring quick access to funds.

i4i Connect launches in addition to the £86m funding commitment made this month by the UK Government for healthcare SMEs to develop new medicines and technologies for use in the NHS.

The i4i Connect funding call will launch 16 August, SMEs will have until 13 September to submit an expression of interest. Successful applicants will then be invited to submit a business case and video pitch. Full details of the programme, key dates and application process will be on the i4i webpage.