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Proof of Concept Programme rewards innovation

A programme to support Yorkshire and Humber based SMEs with innovative ideas to improve people’s health and wellbeing has announced the successful companies set to receive dedicated funding.

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Proof of Concept Programme sought to find organisations across the region that have a concept which will benefit either a paediatric need or a long term condition. Supported by regional delivery partners, Medipex Ltd, Medilink Yorkshire & Humber and Devices for Dignity ltd, the programme provides the opportunity to accelerate the adoption and spread of innovations that will improve outcomes for patients and families.

The successful companies are Exyo, One Day Creative, Recovery Enterprises and a GP. Funded by the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, each will now benefit from £18,000 of bespoke consultancy advice from the delivery partners and £5,000 to spend on product development to help them advance their concepts.

Exyo, a Sheffield based company comprising of engineers recently graduated from the University of Sheffield, has developed an off-road posterior walker for children with mobility issues. The walker gives users much more stability over uneven ground, than other walkers which are currently available. This extra support allows children  not only to undertake activities which would otherwise be difficult to partake in, but also get out into the countryside and to other places they will have previously found difficult to access.

Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Exyo, said: “This funding is exactly what we need as it means we can accelerate the process of getting this product to market. Having access to experts in the field who can help and advise us will be of enormous benefit as we look to refine the design and our plan for commercialising it.

“It is a really exciting time for us because we know that accessing activities outdoors is currently an unmet need for the users of this kind of walker. As such, it really has the potential to enhance the lives of many children with mobility and balance impairments.”

Leeds-based One Day Creative is looking at expanding its creative workshop programme in schools to promote mindfulness and positive thinking in children.

Rebecca Zimmerman, managing director of One Day Creative, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received the funding which will allow us to further develop the impact we’re having around mental health in schools. Although still in the very early stages, this is a hugely positive step to ensure that we can support teachers and pupils even more so, and make more of a lasting impression beyond delivering just the creative workshop itself. The feedback we had from teachers about this potential project was overwhelming.

“If we can help not only pupils manage their own feelings and emotions, but also support teachers in identifying children who might need additional support, alongside signposting – I’m not surprised it has been so well received. We can’t wait to start on the development with our digital partner Mednet.”

Recovery Enterprises, in Sheffield, work with people living with mental illnesses to encourage them to establish their own enterprise or work voluntarily to aid their wellbeing and recovery.  They are establishing an online resource – Sheffield Flourish – for people who are living with mental illnesses,.  This will act as a social network and a platform for knowledge and information on support networks.

Roz Davies, managing director of Recovery Enterprises, said: “Sheffield Flourish is a digital well-being community platform which supports people living with mental health conditions to flourish through building confidence, skills, knowledge and connections.

“We are delighted to have been successful in our application for Proof of Concept funding. It will enable us to draw on the valuable knowledge, networks and experience of Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network and its partners to build a sustainable business model for the future and to prepare the ground for scaling our model beyond Sheffield.”

The fourth successful applicant is a GP who is looking at implementing a new method of working for out of hours GPs. The aim is to streamline processes, decrease patient waiting times and increase the productivity of GPs undertaking out of hours visits.

Richard Stubbs, Commercial Director at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the creative ideas companies put forward as part of this competition to find different ways we can enhance health and wellbeing across our region. We are delighted to award funding to these successful companies who showcased real innovation and solutions that addresses one, or both, of the core themes we specified of specialist paediatric medicine and long term conditions.

“Alongside our appointed delivery partners, Medilink Yorkshire & Humber, Medipex Ltd and Devices for Dignity Ltd, we will now be working closely with the successful applicants to provide advice about their concept. This will take into account factors such as value proposition, competitor analysis, intellectual property, market size and value and a commercialisation plan to ensure that if their ideas can, and do, come to fruition, they have the best possible opportunity to succeed and deliver for the people who need them.”