Health Minister Jim Wells and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster have announced the commencement of Phase 1 of the Medicines Optimisation Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition, with plans for Phase 2 to begin later in 2015.
Phase 1 of the competition started in January 2015 and aims to develop new technology solutions that will help optimise the health benefits of medicines through improved adherence by supporting people to take their medicines as prescribed.
The SBRI competition launched on 3 March 2014 and was well received with a range of applicants proposing various innovative solutions. Six applications were finally selected and these projects will run from January until the end of June 2015. Phase 1 will focus on proving the scientific, technical and commercial feasibility of the solutions.
Plans have started for Phase 2 of the competition which will involve the development of well defined prototypes which have been identified as viable proposals from Phase 1.
Health Minister, Jim Wells said: “With an aging population and a rising number of people with long term conditions demand for medicines is high in Northern Ireland.
“Unfortunately evidence shows that many people do not take their medicines as prescribed, either intentionally or non-intentionally. This results in poor health outcomes for individuals, wastes medicines and creates pressure on our Health Service. In addition we know that around 1 in 15 unplanned admissions to hospital are associated with medicines.”
Announcing the commencement of phase 1 of the competition, the Health Minister continued, “There are limited solutions available at this time to help people to take their medicines as prescribed and I welcome the development of creative and technological solutions to support people to gain the best from their treatment.”
The competition has been developed by the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety in partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and Innovate UK with support from the Health and Social Care Board and Invest NI.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive’s recent Innovation Strategy emphasises the important role which our public sector can play though approaches such as SBRI as a driver of innovation in the economy. I particularly welcome this project, the first Northern Ireland healthcare SBRI, as a concrete example of the collaboration between health and enterprise which can improve the health and wealth of our region. I look forward to seeing more healthcare SBRI projects under the auspices of the Life and Health Strategy being developed by our Departments.”
Stephen Browning, Head of SBRI at Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK are very pleased to see the first SBRI contracts being placed by DHSSPS, and we look forward to working with DHSSPS on many more SBRI competitions to help drive innovation in public services.”