Funding competition NHS Test Beds: business expression of interest

Businesses can express an interest in a share of up to £6 million to test the impact of ‘combinatorial’ innovations on the biggest health and care challenges.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK is to invest up to £4.5 million on behalf of the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), a joint unit between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is in projects that integrate new product and service innovations. These projects must produce significant health improvements at the same or less cost than existing practice.

An additional £1.5 million is available from NHS England. This is specifically for projects that integrate digital approaches to self-management education and support for people with type 2 diabetes.

This is the first stage of the competition and is calling for expressions of interest (EoI). By entering you state that you have a market-ready digital product and are willing to partner with an NHS organisation or partnership.

The EoI part of this competition has 2 strands. This is the business strand. The other strand is for NHS organisations or partnerships.

To apply you must be a business with a digital product that addresses a clearly defined health and care challenge that is in line with the national NHS and life sciences priorities.

If your proposal is selected, you will be invited to attend a collaboration workshop between 9 and 13 April 2018 where consortia will be formed. If you establish a consortium, you will be requested to submit a detailed application to the full Test Beds competition.

Funding type


Project size

Eligible projects costs can range from £500,000 to £1.5 million. Projects outside this range will be considered but would require justification. Projects must start on 1 October 2018 and last no longer than 18 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • have a market-ready digital product
  • have identified a health and care challenge faced by the NHS that your product can help to address
  • have, or be willing to work in a consortium with NHS England organisations or partnerships, as well as other organisations
  • have a track record of working on innovative projects and a commitment to the digital agenda

To be market ready, your medical technology, diagnostic devices or regulated digital health products must have a CE marking. Please note that if your final application is successful, any apps may be required to go through the NHS digital assessment process if they have not already done so.

When you form your consortium it must include a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered NHS organisation.

Be advised that this programme is not a procurement process. There is no commitment from NHS England or the NHS in general, to buy any product involved in the programme. The opportunity is for businesses to use the real-world setting of the NHS to test their products at scale, potentially improving their usability and quality. This benefits the NHS by giving real-world examples of how to use digital health technologies and innovations to change care pathways and processes.


Micro and small businesses will receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, and medium-sized businesses will receive up to 60%. We encourage large businesses to apply and benefit from participating in the national programme, but unfortunately will be unable to contribute to their project costs.

Public sector organisations (including NHS bodies), academic institutions and voluntary community and social enterprise organisations are eligible for up to 100% of their eligible project costs.

Your proposal

This strand of the Test Beds competition is for businesses. The aim is to identify businesses that have a market-ready digital product that is:

  • aligned with a health and care challenge
  • satisfies all regulatory and safety requirements

Your project must produce significant health improvements at the same cost as existing practice, or at a lower cost.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. If your proposal is within scope, you will be able to submit the full version to the full competition at a later date, once you have formed a consortium.

You must describe the specific health and care challenge area your solution is designed for. For example, if you have a ready for market solution in diabetes, select diabetes. To be selected for the next stage:

  • your challenge area must match one of the NHS challenges
  • your solution must be ready for market

The next stage will be a written application.

Your proposal should include:

  • details about your organisation
  • a clear explanation of how your solution will address your chosen health and care challenge, whether clinical or system-wide
  • details of any partnerships you are already working in

We will only fund projects that meet the priorities given by NHS England in its 5 Year Forward View and recent Next Steps publication.

Your project must:

  • save significant costs, improve quality of care or improve the service
  • demonstrate strong leadership and commitment to the core tenets of the Test Beds programme.
  • demonstrate that you can share data, including any necessary information governance agreements, with all consortium members
  • commit to conducting real-word demonstrations of ‘combinatorial’ innovations in live clinical settings
  • include products which are market-ready

Your innovation must be ‘combinatorial’. By this we mean new combinations of products and processes. We would expect your product to work in combination with other products in the consortium as well as changes in NHS pathways or processes.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • are at proof of concept or feasibility testing stage
  • include products which are not market-ready
  • focus on health and care challenges not in line with NHS England’s and the government’s priorities
  • feature medical technologies, devices and diagnostics without a digital element

26 February 2018
Competition opens
9 March 2018
Webinar briefing event.
20 March 2018
Overall Wave 2 Test Beds event in London.
27 March 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
11 April 2018 4:05pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

You will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation during the creation of your EoI

You will be able to invite colleagues to contribute to the application.

Your organisation will lead the project if your application is successful.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Application details
  2. Application questions

1. Application details

Explain your health and care challenge and whether this is a clinical or system-wide challenge. This will help us decide whether the proposal fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Proposal summary

Describe your challenge area briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative.

Proposal scope

Describe how your solution fits the scope of the competition. If your proposal is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

2. Application questions

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1: your organisation

Tell us:

  • what your company type is (micro, small, medium or large)
  • how large your company is, giving the number of employees and turnover
  • who will lead on the project
  • who else will be involved in the project, and give their roles, skills and experience

This question is for information only and not scored.

The answer to the following question is assessed by representatives from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), NHS England (NHSE) and Innovate UK.

Question 2: what health and care challenge are you looking to address?

What is your health or care challenge area? Why have you chosen this challenge? How will your product help address the challenge?

You should describe or explain:

  • the health or care challenge area your product addresses
  • your product, and how it would help to address this challenge, including any supporting evidence
  • your motivation for getting involved in a Test Bed
  • what you can offer to an NHS Test Bed
  • details of any other collaborations you have worked in
  • details of any other government funded programmes you have participated in or applied for

Background and further information

The NHS Test Beds programme is jointly funded and delivered by NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, a joint unit between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The programme aims to:

  • help innovators work with the National Health Service (NHS)
  • test ‘combinatorial’ innovation in products and processes in the real-world setting of the NHS
  • improve patient outcomes and experience of care at the same cost as, or at a lower cost than, current practice, while helping the economy grow

This is the second round of the Test Beds programme. For information on the first round, please visit the NHS England website.

This round will provide an opportunity to create new Test Beds, to tackle the biggest health and care challenges faced by the NHS. It will build on the original principles of the programme by testing market-ready innovations in real-world settings and at scale. It will encourage the redesign of clinical pathways to apply new technology when working directly with patients.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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