Funding competition SBRI Competition - Next generation home vision testing

Organisations can apply for a share of £100,000 inclusive of VAT, to develop remotely deployed vision testing.

Start new application

Or sign in to continue an existing application.

Competition sections

Description

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by NHS Scotland. The aim of the competition is to pioneer remote vision testing.

Successful applicants will receive 100% funding and have access to advice from NHS Forth Valley, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Fife and NHS Grampian.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A 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.

Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

Phase 1: research and development contracts, feasibility study

The first phase involves research and development (R&D) contracts being awarded to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution. A total of up to £40,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this phase.

Feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £10,000, inclusive of VAT. This is for each project for up to 3 months.

We expect to fund up to 4 projects. The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

We would welcome bids from a single entity that bring together sector specialists

Phase 2: research and development contracts, prototype development and testing

The second phase will involve up to 2 R&D contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £30,000, inclusive of VAT, will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 9 months.

The contract is completed at the end of phase 2, and the successful business is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Funding type

Procurement

Project size

Phase 1 projects can range in size but must have maximum total costs of £10,000 inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects are expected to start by end February 2021 and can last up to 3 months.

Applicant

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with other organisations

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

We would welcome bids that bring together sector specialists, for example use of relevant NHS, academic and commercial expertise as subcontractors.

We are looking for:

  • experience with computer vision techniques
  • experience with high fidelity graphical representation and web-based platform development
  • a background in vision science and vision testing
  • regulatory experience regarding medical devices

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

In phase 2 you must:

  • develop and evaluate a prototype of your solution
  • test the prototype on real-world data and systems within the indicated Scottish NHS health boards to establish clinical utility
  • develop a plan for full commercial exploitation

Funding

A total of up to £100,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated across phase 1 and phase 2.

Phase 1 feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £10,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 4 projects.

The second phase involves up to 2 contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £30,000, inclusive of VAT will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 9 months.

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

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

State aid

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to state aid criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to improve eyesight testing so that it can be done at home, in school and in under-served communities. Live remote supervision would be provided by healthcare professionals. The results would link to and integrate with, Scottish NHS health board patient systems.

Eye problems will be more easily detected, monitored and managed to prevent sight loss. Your project must bring together low-cost digital solutions and sources of relevant information to solve the challenges of:

  • access to eye testing
  • quicker diagnostics
  • enabling self-checks

We are looking for proposals that:

  • focus on the needs of the person whose vision is being tested
  • have a high degree of accuracy
  • are easy to engage with

You must:

  • make sure the solution can be effectively and securely integrated to NHS Scotland IT infrastructure
  • have an understanding of how any technology solutions or products will be economically sound and affordable for the NHS if adopted
  • have clinical and commercial potential locally, nationally and globally
  • test eyesight in both non healthcare and healthcare settings
  • combine low cost and existing devices, available in a typical home, for real time and “save and send” tests of vision

You must consider, in either adults or children, or both:

  • visual acuity
  • colour vision
  • visual field

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only. You must define your goals and outline your plan for phase 2. This is part of the full commercial implementation in your phase 1 proposal.

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

Research categories

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.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real life operating conditions. The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set.

In phase 1 the supplier will work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution. The outcome of phase 2 will be a prototype of the solution.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that do not plan to work with the current technologies used by the healthcare community and the main patient population in Scotland.

21 September 2020
Competition opens
30 September 2020
Online briefing event: view recording
18 November 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
14 January 2021
Applicants notified
21 January 2021
Phase 1 contracts awarded
3 February 2021
feedback issued

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 final contract will include any details you have agreed with the funding authority and will be sent to you if your application is successful. The terms and conditions included in the draft contract should not substantially change.

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

As the lead applicant you will be 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

A selected panel of assessors will review and score your application and the winners of phase 1 contracts will be selected. All applicants will be provided feedback on request.

For phase 2 they 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:

1.Project details.

2.Application questions.

3.Finances.

1. Project details

These sections are not scored.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

You must complete this EDI survey and type ‘EDI survey completed’ within your answer. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

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?

What is your organisation’s primary area focus?

Project summary

Please provide a short summary of your project and describe how it meets the scope of the competition.

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 own organisation and any other relevant organisations.

List any organisations you have named as subcontractors.

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.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project. 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.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to all questions.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any web links in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Proposed idea or technology

Provide a brief description of your proposed idea or technology. How does it address the outcomes described in the competition scope?

Describe 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 2. Technical project summary

Give a short background to the main technical challenges you are looking to address. Describe or explain:

  • 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

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How valid is the technical approach?’

Question 3. Current state of the art and intellectual property

Detail other products currently available on the market and how the innovation of your proposed project differentiates itself from them.

Include details of:

  • any existing intellectual property (IP)
  • its significance to your freedom to operate

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 4. 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. We are seeking evidence that the technology works, can be made into a viable product and can achieve the proposed benefits.

You should describe or explain:

  • what resources will be needed to deliver the project
  • what the main success criteria would be
  • the identified project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones
  • the main technical, commercial and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them
  • how you would handle any IP issues which might arise during the project
  • your required payment schedule by month.

Please ensure that if you are working with subcontractors you explain how you will maintain freedom to operate and fulfil the IP requirements detailed in the contract. Allow for the preparation of a detailed plan for phase 2, towards the end of phase 1.

You must upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in a PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Download and complete the milestone template.

Your milestones must be:

  • clear
  • defined using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) criteria
  • associated with the appropriate deliverables and payments

Once you have completed the milestone template it must be uploaded in a PDF format to this question. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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 project success? Will these be effectively managed? Are the milestones and evaluation procedures appropriate?’

Question 5. Technical team and expertise

Provide a brief description of your technical team. Include the expertise of each team member or subcontractor that is relevant to your application, outlining why they are critical to the project’s success and how much of their time will be spent on the project.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘Does the applicant have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the intended benefits?’

Question 6. 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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs, inclusive of VAT, you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer

You can submit a single appendix as a spreadsheet 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 potential costs for phase 2. Progression to phase 2 depends on your success in phase 1.

Costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a “fair market value” and not include profit.

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.

You will be asked if you are VAT registered before entering your project costs. If you are a VAT registered organisation you will not need to enter your costs inclusive of VAT as the application form will calculate the VAT for you.

Total cost must include VAT. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications must list total costs inclusive of VAT. If you are not VAT registered then you can quote without VAT but you will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT later on.

The assessors are required to judge the application finances in terms of value for money. In other words, does the proposed cost for effort and deliverables reflect a fair market price? 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 7. Commercial potential

Describe how you would realise the commercial potential of your proposal and to what timescales, including a clear plan to deliver that and a route to market. Focus on your proposed customer’s needs but you may also mention the future commercial potential across the public or private sector and the international market.

How far is the challenge you are addressing shared across the public and/or private sector in the UK and further afield? Describe the competitive advantage that your proposal has over existing or alternative technologies that meet market needs.

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘Is there a clear commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service and 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?’

3. Finances

Enter your phase 1 project costs, organisation details and funding details. 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 organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. 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.

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.

Competition context

The benefits of managing eye conditions in the community are well documented and Realistic Medicine promotes person centred care. However, there are disparities in the uptake of eye testing and some people in disadvantaged communities and minority groups do not access services as easily as others.

Visual acuity is tested in – children, drivers, people unable to leave home or travel, pre and post surgery

People able to administer tests are – ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, technicians, GPs, nurses, teachers, patients and carers

Current scenario

Frank is a 6 year old boy who was identified at pre-school screening as having a problem with vision in one eye.

He is regularly reviewed by hospital eye services, and is treated with glasses, and an eye-patch over the better seeing eye to help the vision develop in the eye with poorer vision. The duration the patch is worn is guided by how his vision is changing with time.

He is reviewed in hospital around every 6-9 weeks.

Future scenario

Frank is a 6 year old boy who was identified at pre-school screening as having a problem with vision in one eye.

At a visit to hospital eye services, Frank and his mum practiced using a vision test on a website using mum’s smartphone. Mum now tests Frank’s vision at home every 4 weeks and the results go to the hospital, who communicate with mum and Frank with phone or video calls.

The hospital do a remote appointment (video call) with mum and Frank every 6 months, guiding how long he should wear his patch for.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and NHS Scotland (each an “agency”).

Your submitted application and any other information you provide at the application stage can be submitted to each agency on an individual basis for its storage, processing and use. Any relevant information 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 NHS Scotland and vice versa.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Innovate UK and NHS Scotland are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK, and NHS Scotland will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

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 information

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you have any questions about the requirements of this competition, email fv.fvquality@nhs.scot

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 11:30am or 2pm and 4.30pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

Need help with this service? Contact us