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SBRI competition – supported early fracture diagnosis


Organisations can apply for a share of £240,000, including VAT, to develop an innovative AI solution for radiological diagnosis of fractures of upper and/or lower limbs.

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Opportunity North East and NHS Scotland. Successful applicants will receive 100% funding and have access to advice from NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), the University of Aberdeen, the Canon Medical Research Europe and the funders.

NHS Scotland and Opportunity North East (ONE) are investing up to £240,000, including VAT, in innovative data analytics technology. The aim is to improve front-line clinical decision making and patient management in unscheduled care facilities.

The solution will improve clinical workflow and safety by optimising clinical decision making and management pathways. It must use artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning algorithms to interpret data from upper limb (wrist or hand) and lower limb (ankle or foot) radiographs and linked text-based reports. Accurate determination of the presence or absence of a fracture in these areas has the potential to significantly improve patient care.

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The challenge is to develop an AI or machine-based learning programme that can help healthcare organisations accurately identify whether a patient has a fracture. This is initially a classification problem (by assigning a value of yes, no or maybe).

In simple terms, the task to begin with is to develop an automatic system that, with a degree of certainty, can remove from clinicians’ workload those that are definitely yes or no, leaving them to focus on the more complex images. This is an initial step towards integrating AI systems into a mainstream clinical workflow within the NHS and could be a platform for building more intelligent learning systems.

AI or machine learning could be included in clinical workflows to interpret peripheral limb radiographs for the presence of fractures, which in most cases are not reported for several days. This would help:

  • Improve diagnostic accuracy and treatment
  • Improve patient pathways and outcomes
  • Reduce the growing deficit between radiology reporting workloads and staffing levels

This competition draws on Scotland’s expertise in:

  • Clinical and academic digital radiology
  • Advanced data storage
  • Data governance and access
  • Interoperable healthcare databases

The competition is looking for proposals that:

  • Improve peripheral limb fracture detection by non-radiology experts in out of hours environments within NHS Grampian
  • Transform peripheral limb injury clinical pathways to improve patient outcomes and increase productivity by at least 20%
  • Use the relevant NHS, academic and commercial expertise, data and infrastructure offered by Grampian
  • Have clinical and commercial potential locally, nationally and globally

Innovate UK are looking for industrial innovators. You must confidently collaborate and use multiple data sources to develop clinically relevant and commercially practicable solutions. There is potential to commercialise outputs directly through NHS Scotland and globally through the sales and marketing channels of Canon Medical.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this SBRI competition would be the subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition only covers R&D not the purchase of any solution.

In phase 1 you must work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution. In phase 2 the outcome of your project will be a prototype of the solution.

To lead a project, you can:

  • Be an organisation of any size
  • Work alone or with others from business, the research base or the third sector as subcontractors

Phase 1 projects must start by October 2019 and last up to 3 months.

Innovate UK welcome bids that bring together a consortium of sector specialists.

In phase 1, you must:

  • Demonstrate the technical feasibility of your proposed innovation
  • Establish ongoing collaboration between technical and clinical members of the project team
  • Formalise any required ethical approvals, data sharing agreements and contracts
  • Begin working with clinical and imaging data

Phase 2 projects must last up to 9 months.

Only applicants who complete phase 1 can apply for funding to progress into phase 2. If your application is successful, you must:

  • Develop and evaluate a prototype of your solution
  • Test the prototype on real-world data and systems within NHS Grampian to establish clinical utility
  • Develop a plan for full commercial exploitation

NHS Scotland and Opportunity North East have allocated up to £240,000, including VAT, to fund projects in this competition. There are 2 phases. Up to £100,000, including VAT, is allocated for phase 1 and up to £140,000, including VAT, for phase 2.

Applications must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for R&D services. R&D can cover solution exploration and design. It can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. R&D does not include:

  • Commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • Supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • Integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • Adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • Apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.