Funding competition SBRI - AI supporting early detection and diagnosis in heart failure management

Organisations can apply for a share of £120,000 inclusive of VAT, to develop an AI tool to provide accessible heart failure data from routine patient information.

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Competition sections

Description

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by NHS Scotland. Successful applicants will receive 100% funding and have access to advice from NHS Tayside, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board and the University of Dundee Health Informatics Centre.

The aim of this competition is to develop a system that can provide accessible, timely and accurate data on heart failure from healthcare information which is routinely collected in primary and secondary care.

We are looking for digital and data-driven partners to work with clinical and informatics experts in Tayside.

Together they will develop a solution to automatically evaluate and accurately extract meaningful data from a number of healthcare data sources, such as:

  • image
  • quantitative
  • unformatted text

The output will be a national dashboard to give clinicians, managers and policymakers timely access to data so that they can manage, develop or improve patient care.

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 £40,000 inclusive of VAT, will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 15 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 the subject of a separate, possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Funding type

Procurement

Project size

Phase 1 projects to range in size up to total costs of £10,000 inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects are expected to start on 1 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 single legal entities. 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 from a single entity that brings together sector specialists

You must use computer infrastructure in the Health Informatics Centre’s “safe haven” ISO27001 environment.

Funding

A total of up to £40,000 inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 1.

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 £40,000 inclusive of VAT will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 15 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 develop a system using AI or machine learning algorithms which will provide accessible, timely and accurate data on heart failure from patient healthcare information collected in primary and secondary care.

The University of Dundee Health Informatics Centre (HIC) is recognised as a world leader in health data linkage. It currently maintains a clinical data repository of eHealth data covering approximately 20% of the Scottish population.

The eHealth repository combines routine collected datasets for the Tayside and Fife population, with local speciality research, and clinical datasets extending back 30 years.

Data associated with heart failure diagnosis will be available to you on the HIC platform. This may include (but not be limited to), a combination of:

  • echocardiogram imaging
  • additional medical imaging
  • biological data

You will benefit from working with NHS Tayside, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board and HIC to develop and test your innovative solution.

You must use computer infrastructure in the Health Informatics Centre’s “safe haven” ISO27001 environment.

In phase 1 you must:

  • demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed innovation
  • establish ongoing collaboration between technical and clinical members of the project team in Scotland
  • formalise any required ethical approvals, data sharing agreements and contracts
  • recognise and plan for the cost implications of multi-modality datasets such as text, phenotype, CT, X-ray, echocardiograms, multi-dimensional data
  • develop the foundation to deliver in phase 2

In phase 2 we will ask successful applicants from phase 1 to:

  • develop and evaluate a prototype of your solution
  • test the prototype on real-world data and systems within the NHS
  • develop a plan for commercial exploitation

It is envisaged that further data from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board could be added to the dataset.

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 project.

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 cover:

  • development or trial of a novel device for measurement of additional clinical parameters
  • analysis of patient data outside of the safe haven environment

12 October 2020
Competition opens
28 October 2020
Online briefing event - register to attend
9 December 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
1 February 2021
Phase 1 contracts awarded
1 February 2021
Feedback

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 contract is binding once it is returned by the applicant and signed by both parties. 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 with 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 then select yes in the application question. 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 an option to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.

How long has your organisation been established for?

Select an option 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 an option to state what is your organisation’s primary area focus. You cannot choose more than one.

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

Please provide a brief description of your project. If your application is successful, we will publish this description. This question is mandatory but we will not assess this content as part of your application.

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 these questions.

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. 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 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.

Broader Information

Current scenario

Currently there are inequities in how heart failure is diagnosed and managed. This results in large variations in access to, and availability of, models of care.

To better understand this variation and contemporary practice of heart failure care in Scotland, reliable national heart failure audit data is urgently needed to help plan services to improve the standard of care of patients with heart failure.

The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland wishes to better understand contemporary practice of heart failure care in Scotland to help plan services and improve the standard of care of patients.

NHS Tayside wishes to reduce its variation in heart failure care delivery and build a world class clinical data repository of heart failure patients. National heart failure audit data is urgently needed to capture key data on the scale of the problem (new diagnoses, hospital deaths and hospital discharges due to heart failure) and clinical indicators that have a proven link to improved outcomes.

At this time, we do not have reliable national heart failure data in Scotland, with a substantial portion of data missing and incomplete. Data is stored in a variety of different databases with limited mapping and is not harmonised nationally.

Without this key national heart failure data, the Chief Medical Officer is unable to plan and inform national priorities in heart failure care. As a result there are inequities in the way heart failure is diagnosed and managed, leading to large variations in heart failure outcomes across Scotland. There is an urgent care quality gap for patients with heart failure in Scotland.

Future scenario

The new technology allows the Chief Medical Officer to have access to a consistent and high quality national heart failure data repository that will help drive up standards of care and achieve better outcomes for patients with heart failure in Scotland.

The Chief Medical Officer can now better plan and prioritise services for patients with heart failure. This provides a more uniform application of guidelines, equitable access to evidence-based treatment and holistic models of care. The National Heart failure data repository helps create a platform of high-quality data for future impactful research

The new technology allows users to:

  • assess and monitor quality of service at practice, hospital and board level
  • identify and address treatment and outcome variations between hospitals across the board
  • obtain evidence on performance management and adherence to national guidelines (key performance indicators)
  • support heart failure service/resource planning
  • benchmark and drive up standards of care with practice, hospital, board and national parity, to improve patient outcomes
  • develop and share quality improvement initiatives
  • enhance the heart failure research potential that exists within NHS Scotland

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 and Scottish Enterprise.

For help with the scope requirements of this competition, email duncan.simpson2@nhs.scot including ‘HFSBRI’ in the subject heading

If you need support with the application process, 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).

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