UK medical research organisations launch competition

A new competition to enable greater usage of technology in the care of kidney disease has been launched by two UK medical research organisations.

Kidney Research UK, a charity in the UK focused on funding and supporting kidney research developing from concept to patient benefit, has partnered with Devices for Dignity, the NIHR’s HealthTech Research Centre in Long-Term Conditions, to launch a joint competition. Devices for Dignity’s goal is to act as a catalyst for new medical technologies to come to market or become available to people with long-term conditions. 

There are estimated to be 7.2 million people in the UK currently living with chronic kidney disease, more than 10% of the entire population, and over half are unlikely to have been diagnosed. There are life-saving treatments for kidney disease such as dialysis which can make patients very tired and nauseous, therefore innovations to improve patients’ quality of life are urgently needed.

The competition is seeking translational research projects focused on one of eight interconnected themes around long-term conditions, including kidney disease. Projects that cross over themes will be of particular interest.  

Clinical themes: 

  • Kidney Care
  • Diabetes 
  • Long-Term Neurological Conditions (LTNC)
  • Women’s Health
  • Rehabilitation, Assistive and Restorative Technologies (RART)
  • Mental Health

Cross-cutting themes: 

  • Methodological Innovation
  • Pathways to Implementation and Impact 

This competition is targeted at projects ready to be tested in either a controlled setting (Technology Readiness Level 4), or a more relevant setting (Technology Readiness Level 5), and must be used to further the development of the product. There are four awards worth £10,000 each plus up to £5,000 in-kind support from Devices for Dignity which includes access to networks, PPI support, regulatory guidance alongside IP and commercialisation advice. 

Liz Pryde, programme manager of Devices for Dignity said: “We are extremely delighted to be opening this funding competition in partnership with Kidney Research UK. By joining forces we are able to combine our expertise and national networks which offers a great opportunity for industry and academics to develop their innovations in the kidney health technology space alongside broader expertise. We are excited by the possibility of supporting innovations that will benefit kidney disease patients with an overall goal of helping patients live their lives better, for longer.”

The competition is open to applicants from the NHS, higher education institutes and small to medium sized enterprises. The project length must be six to 12 months. The competition closes on 15 May 2024.

Katherine Forbes, director of innovation and enterprise at Kidney Research UK said “Partnering with Devices for Dignity on this competition is a huge step in the right direction for innovation in medical technology. At a time when cases of kidney disease are rising rapidly, we need to see innovation in medical technology which will slow the progression of kidney disease and help patients take control of their own health. I am looking forward to seeing what innovations are under development from researchers, start-up companies and the NHS in this round of awards, that have the potential to make kidney care better, safer and more cost-effective.” 

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