SBRI: Skin Cancer detection using Artificial Intelligence
Organisations can apply for a share of £500,000 inclusive of VAT, over the 2 phases of the competition. The aim of this competition is to improve existing AI algorithms for skin cancer to accelerate detection and diagnosis.
- Competition opens: Monday 27 March 2023
- Competition closes: Friday 19 May 2023 11:00am
This competition is now closed.
This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP)
The aim of the competition is to improve existing Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms for skin cancer to accelerate detection and diagnosis. We are seeking partners who wish to improve the diagnostic ability of their AI.
Companies will be expected to understand the performance of their algorithm prior to the challenge. A successful outcome for phase 1 projects would be the ability to improve performance using the new dermatology Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard.
This is phase 1 of a potential 2 phase competition. The decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1 and assessment of a separate application into a subsequent phase 2 competition.
Successful companies going through to phase 2 will improve and refine the capability of the algorithm to diagnose skin cancer using simulated, or actual healthcare data and present data back to the clinician in a way that fits with the clinical diagnostic process and pathway.
Only the successful applicants from phase 1 will be invited to apply to take part in phase 2.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.
Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate, possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.
SHIP reserves the right not to award any contracts. SHIP give no guarantee or warranty as to the nature, or number of projects funded.This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.
Organisations can apply for a share of £500,000 inclusive of VAT over the 2 phases of the competition. £90,000 has been allocated to Phase 1 for up to 3 projects.
Who can apply
Phase 1 projects must:
- aim to start by 1 September 2023
- end 4 months after the agreed start date
- work with the identified NHS Scotland Regional Test Bed and academic research partner to develop their solution
- provide details of certification and compliance with relevant standards and regulations for developed algorithms, for example: CA/CE mark, ISO13485
Successful applicants from phase 1 will be invited to apply to take part in a potential phase 2 of the competition.
To lead a project, you can:
- be an organisation of any size, registered in the UK, European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA)
- work alone or with others from business, academia research, and technology organisations or the third sector, as subcontractors
You must work in conjunction with the identified test bed partner and identified academic research partner. The initial test bed site will be NHS Tayside working with the academic research partner, The Health Informatics Centre in Dundee University.
This competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.
Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can engage specialists or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.
Organisations are advised to only lead on one application per technology.
A total of up to £500,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated across phase 1 and phase 2 of this competition.
Phase 1 feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts will be up to £30,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 4 months. We will fund up to 3 projects.
In phase 1, you must:
- work with real-life data sets
- demonstrate the technical feasibility of your algorithm to detect and triage skin cancer using the new dermatology Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard
- establish ongoing collaboration between technical and clinical members of the project team
We would welcome applications that bring together sector specialists.
The potential phase 2 would involve up to 2 contracts being awarded to organisations chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £150,000 inclusive of VAT for a project of up to 12 months will be allocated for each contract, to deliver clinical grade performance and demonstrate that the product could be integrated into the clinical pathway.
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, in order to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, themes, markets, regions, nations and technological maturities
- contracts will be given to successful applicants based upon total consensus score and the portfolio approach
The contract is completed at the end of phase 1, including the end-of-phase report, and the successful organisation is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.
VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and suggest you seek independent advice from HMRC.
If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total. Your total project costs inclusive of VAT must not exceed £30,000.
Not VAT registered
If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered. Your total project costs must not exceed £30,000.
Research and development
Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.
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 aim of this competition is to improve existing AI algorithms for skin cancer to accelerate detection and diagnosis. To achieve this, applicants will be required to work with real world images and metadata in a standardised, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) format in a trusted research environment.
The data pipeline that has been created for this challenge contains standardised image and metadata. This will be captured as part of everyday patient pathways from specifically designed community locality image centres, labelled by consultant dermatologists, and delivered as DICOM format files.
The specific use case for these algorithms is the stream of potential skin cancer referrals from primary to secondary care.
- have an algorithm that has been developed for potential skin cancer referrals from primary to secondary care
- detail how you will work with the identified test bed and academic research partner by delivering R&D services to develop your solution in preparation for integration into clinical practice and work towards product approval across UK health systems
- set out a plan to work towards necessary approval in the all the UK health systems
- demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results including plans to achieve regulatory compliance where required.
At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only.
You must define your goals in your application and outline your plan for the potential phase 2.
In phase 2 we will ask successful applicants from phase 1 to further improve and refine the capability of their algorithm
You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.
Phase 1: technical feasibility studies
This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.
In phase 1 you must work closely with stakeholders to undertake a feasibility project to refine your existing skin cancer algorithms using the new dermatology DICOM standard.
Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation
This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validating the diagnostic capability of an existing algorithm using real world data.
At this stage contracts will only be given to successful applicants from phase 1. Progression to a potential phase 2 is dependent on the outcomes from phase 1.
Projects we will not fund
We will not fund projects that:
- involve development of completely new algorithms and commercially available algorithms developed without use of real-world healthcare data
- focus on the development of data capture, storage or transmission solutions
- would directly duplicate other UK government, Scottish government, NHS or EU funded initiatives you have already been funded to deliver
- do not include an evaluation phase, and a plan to collect information to inform a cost or benefit analysis
- do not demonstrate a credible plan for acquiring data which would support product approval in all 4 UK healthcare systems
- do not work in conjunction with the identified test bed partner and identified academic research partner
- 27 March 2023
- Competition opens
- 17 April 2023
- Online briefing event: watch the recording
- 19 May 2023 11:00am
- Competition closes
- 7 July 2023
- Applicants notified
- 31 July 2023
- 31 August 2023
- Phase 1 contracts awarded
Before you start
By submitting an application, you agree to the terms of the draft contract which is available once you start your application. The terms of the contract are non-negotiable and are included in the draft contract. We reserve the right to change the terms and conditions if necessary.
The final contract will include any milestones you have agreed with the funding authority and will be sent to you if your application is successful. The contract is binding once it is returned by you and signed by both parties.
When you start an application, you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. Using your account, you will be able to track your applications progress.
As the applicant you are responsible for:
- collecting the information for your application
- representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful
You will be able to invite colleagues from your organisation to contribute to the application.
What happens next
You will be notified by NHS Forth Valley on behalf of The Scottish Health and Industry Partnership (SHIP). You will need to request feedback, if required, following your notification. Feedback will not be provided in IFS.
Contracts for this phase 1 will then be issued to all successful applicants.For the potential phase 2 competition, assessors can also take into account the phase 1 end-of-phase report. They might ask a number of finalists to attend an interview or give a demonstration.
What we will ask you
The application is split into 3 sections:
- Project details.
- Application questions.
You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.
Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:
- that all the information provided in the application is correct
- your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
- all sections of the application are marked as complete
You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.
Accessibility and inclusion
We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. Read more on how we have made our application process accessible and inclusive to everyone.
You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.
You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
1. Project details
This section provides background for your application and is not scored.
Give your project’s title, start date and duration.
Who made you aware of the competition?
Select a category to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.
How long has your organisation been established for?
Select a category to state how long has your organisation been established for. You cannot choose more than one.
What is your organisation’s primary area focus?
Select a category to state your organisation’s primary focus area. You cannot choose more than one.
Project and scope summary
Please provide a short summary of your project.
Describe your project briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative and how it relates to the scope of the competition. How does it tackle different aspects of the challenge and how will it provide an integrated solution?
Give details of the lead organisation. Before you submit, we expect you to have discussed your application within your organisation.
Your answer for this section can be up to 800 words long.
This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits the scope of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.
Please provide a brief description of your project. If your application is successful, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project. This question is mandatory, but we will not assess this content as part of your application.
Describe your project in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. We have the right to amend the description before publication if necessary but will consult you about any changes.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.
You must also state the name and full registered address of any potential or confirmed subcontractors.
We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
2. Application questions
The assessors will score all of your questions except questions 1, 2 and 3 which are not scored.
Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.
Question 1. Previous funding (not scored)
If you have previously received funding from UK or Scottish Government or a UK Health system (NHS England, Scotland or Wales or Health and Social Care Northern Ireland) you must provide a short description of the projects and the value of the funding granted.
If you have not received any previous funding, you must answer this question with ‘No previous funding received’.
This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether your project fits the requirements of the competition and does not duplicate previously funded projects.
Question 2. Applicant background check (not scored)
You must complete the additional background information to check eligibility.
You must download and complete the attached template and upload the completed template as an appendix to this question. It must be a PDF no larger than 10MB in size and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.
You must write ‘Template upload’ in the text box as your answer to this question.
This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether your project fits the eligibility requirements of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.
Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.
Question 3. Do you have an existing AI algorithm for the use case described in this competition with a readiness to work with real world data sets? (not scored)
Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether your project fits the eligibility requirements of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.
Question 4. Proposed idea or technology
How does the project meet the challenge described in the competition scope?
Provide a description of your proposed idea or technology.
Include a description of the current state of development or readiness of the idea.
You can submit a single appendix as a PDF containing images and diagrams to support your answer. It can be no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How well does the proposal meet the challenge?’.
Question 5. Technical project summary
What are the main technical challenges you are addressing?
- how you will address the challenge
- what the innovation is
- the main technical deliverables
- the research and development that will prove the scientific, environmental and commercial merit of the project
- what might be achieved by deploying the innovation to address the selected challenge
- any relevant standards, accreditations or regulatory approvals required for your solution, are these already achieved or describe steps you would take to achieve them
This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How valid is the technical approach?’.
Question 6. Current state of the art and intellectual property
Are similar products currently available in the market?
How is your proposed project differentiated from them?
You must include details of:
- any existing intellectual property (IP)
- its significance to your freedom to operate
- novel concepts you develop or employ
- new approaches or technologies you use
- new tools or technologies
This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘How innovative is this project? How much does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area?’.
Question 7. Project plan and methodology
Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones.
The plan for phase 1 must be comprehensive. For phase 2 only an outline is required. The emphasis throughout should be on practicality.
Provide evidence that the technology works, can be made into a viable product and can achieve the proposed benefits.
- describe resources that will be needed to deliver the project
- describe what the main success criteria will be
- identify the project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones
- provide a clear plan for establishing technical and commercial feasibility and regulatory approval
- describe the main technical, commercial, regulatory and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them
- provide a clear plan for development of a working prototype
You must explain how you would handle any intellectual property (IP) issues which might arise during the project.
Include details of how you will maintain freedom to operate and fulfil the IP requirements detailed in the contract if you are working with subcontractors.
You must upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Your milestones must:
- be clear
- be defined using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) criteria
- be associated with the appropriate deliverables and payments
- indicate your payment schedule by month
This question will be assessed against these assessment criteria:
- does the proposal show a clear plan for establishing technical and commercial feasibility and the development of a working prototype
- is there a clear management plan
- what are the main technical, commercial, and environmental risks to the project’s success
- how will these be effectively managed
- are the milestones and evaluation procedures appropriate
Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question. Proposed milestones and associated payments stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.
Question 8. Technical team and expertise
Who is in the technical team? What expertise do they offer?
Provide a brief description of your technical team, including any subcontractors.
- how each organisation has the skills, capabilities, and experience to deliver the intended benefits
- how much of their time will be spent on the project
- the required expertise and resource required from the test bed to develop your proposed solution
This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: Does the applicant have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the intended benefits?
Question 9. Costs and value for money
How much will the project cost for phase 1? How does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?
- the total costs inclusive of VAT (If applicable) you are requesting in terms of the project goals
- how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
- your expected overall costs for phase 2
Proposed costs stated in this section for phase 1 must match those entered in the finance summary.
All costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a ‘fair market value’ and not include profit.
You can submit a single appendix as a spreadsheet in PDF format, no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Indicate your expected costs for phase 2.
Progression to potential phase 2 depends on your success in phase 1.
Please note that all payments are made in arrears on submission of an invoice. The invoice must be submitted within 30 days of the end of each monitoring period for all completed milestones.
Full Economic Cost (FEC) calculations are not relevant for SBRI competitions. SBRI is a competitive process and applications will come from a variety of organisations. Whatever calculation you use to arrive at your total eligible project costs your application will be assessed against applications from other organisations. Bear this in mind when calculating your total eligible project costs. You can include overheads but remember that this is a competitive process.
The assessors are required to judge the application finances in terms of value for money. They will score your finances against this assessment criterion: ‘Are the budget and costs realistic, justified and appropriate for the aims and methods?
Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question. Proposed costs stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.
Question 10. Commercial potential
What is the commercial potential of your project? You must focus on your proposed customer’s needs.
- projects commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service
- delivery plan
- expected route to market
Describe the competitive advantage that your project has over existing or alternative technologies that meet market needs.
Describe any existing commercial relationships relevant to the project.
With the focus on your proposed customer’s needs, you can also mention the future commercial potential across the public or private sector and international markets.
This question will be scored against these assessment criteria:
- is there a clear commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service
- is there a clear plan to deliver that and a clear route to market
- how significant is the competitive advantage of this technology over existing technologies that meet the market’s needs
Enter your phase 1 project costs, organisation details and funding details.
You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs. We advise you answer the VAT registered question first before entering your costs. Your total project costs must not exceed £30,000.
If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total.
If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered.
VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and advise you to seek independent advice from HMRC.For full information on what costs you can claim, see our project costs guidance.
Background and further information
About Small Business Research Initiative competitions
SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness.
The SBRI programme:
- supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of R&D
- generates new business opportunities for companies
- provides a route to market for their ideas
- bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies
SBRI competitions are open to all eligible organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. Under current regulations, SBRI contracts are open to applications from organisations registered in the UK, European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).
The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized businesses, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focused on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation.
SBRI is a procurement of R&D services. If successful, you will receive a contract to deliver the proposed activity. Costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a ‘fair market value’ and not include profit.
You must submit an invoice for the work undertaken. All payments are made in arrears on submission of an invoice. Invoices must be submitted within 30 days of the end of each monitoring period for all completed milestones.
If you are VAT registered, your total costs are expected to include VAT that you would charge as a service provider. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications are expected to list total costs inclusive of VAT.
Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting authority. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development.
The Scottish Health and Industry Partnership
The Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP) are jointly hosted in the Department of Economy and Department of Health and Social Care. As part of the collaborative actions being taken by SHIP, Government Departments, NHS Boards, Integrated Joint Boards, and Innovators to support remobilisation and grow the economy across Scotland.
NHS Forth Valley will provide national programme management for this competition on behalf of the AI Skin Cancer Consortium. NHS Golden Jubilee, on behalf of SHIP, will issue and oversee pre-commercial contracts, milestones and funding.
NHS Scotland Regional Test Beds
Innovation within Scotland is supported by three Regional Innovation Test Beds:
- North of Scotland
- West of Scotland
- Health Innovation South East Scotland
These innovation test beds are uniquely placed within NHS Scotland to support your project, providing access to relevant systems and supporting testing in a healthcare environment.
The initial test bed site will be NHS Tayside working with the academic research partner, The Health Informatics Centre in Dundee University. Other test beds identified will be dependent on availability of local DICOM datasets and support from engaged clinical teams.
See ‘Further help and guidance’ section for more detail on identified test bed and academic research partner.
This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, SHIP and NHS Golden Jubilee (each an “agency”).
Any relevant information submitted and produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.
This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to SHIP and NHS Golden Jubilee and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to:
- the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants
- scoring and feedback on the application
- information received during the management and administration of the grant, such as Monitoring Officer reports and Independent Accountant Reports
Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.
Further help and guidance
If you want help to find an organisation to work with, contact the Innovate UK KTN.
If you have any questions about the scope requirements of this competition, email email@example.com or SHIP@gov.scot.
Further information on the challenge can be found at SBRI Open Innovation Competition on Dermatology AI and at the launch event.
If you need more information about how to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 321 4357.Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
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