The government has announced an extra £86m to boost uptake of technology and innovation in the NHS, including £35m to be paid directly to small and medium sized enterprises.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy announced the funding at the BIA/MHRA conference in London today. The money is aimed at accelerating the adoption and spread of commercial innovation in the NHS, which a recent review found was slow and disjointed.

SMEs will be able to bid for funding to develop and test technologies in the NHS with the aim of speeding up the journey from development to adoption.

Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “The government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world leading, life changing treatments as fast as possible. That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – like speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs.”

The funding comprises:

  • £39m for academic health science networks, allowing them to access the benefits of new technology for the local health economy and support uptake in the NHS.
  • £35m for companies to develop technology specifically for the NHS. This will be match-funded.
  • Up to £6m over three years to help SMEs test innovative medicines and devices.
  • £6m to help integrate technology into current NHS practises such as staff training

Tara Donnelly, chief executive of the AHSN for South London, Health Innovation Network, said money would be used to ”speed up the spread of technological breakthroughs that deliver real benefits to patients according to the local need”.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s executive director of commercial policy, Richard Torbett, said: “If we get this right, fostering greater collaboration between innovators, patients, NICE and the NHS can make the UK the world leading hub for life sciences.”

The funding is being provided by Department for Health and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It is part of the government’s response to the accelerated access review, published in October, that urged the government to streamline the slow adoption and uptake of innovations in the NHS. A full response to the review is expected later this year.