Innovations Page

Free 20 minute Zero Suicide Prevention Training

The Zero Suicide Alliance is a collaborative of National Health Service Trusts, Businesses and Individuals who are all committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond. The alliance is ultimately concerned with improving support for people contemplating suicide by raising awareness of and promoting FREE suicide prevention training which is accessible to all. The aims of this training are to; enable people to identify when someone is presenting with suicidal thoughts/ behaviour, to be able to speak out in a supportive manner, and to empower them to signpost the individual to the correct services or support.

i4i Connect: funding for SMEs to accelerate medical technology development

The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is launching a new funding stream - i4i Connect - aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of a funding boost to reach their next stage in the development pathway.

Offering up to £150,000 over a 6-12 month period, i4i Connect will help SMEs get to the point of eligibility for a full i4i award or, down the line, follow on-funding. This will enable accelerated development of promising medical technologies, in line with recommendations from the Government’s Accelerated Access Review.

Martin Hunt, NIHR i4i Programme Director said:

“SMEs have told us that there is a gap in funding both in the early stage of development and for completed projects that do not have all the data to effectively access the follow-on funding marketplace. i4i Connect will support teams through either of these stages of development with a fast turnaround of funding - vital for SMEs needing to maintain momentum.

“The NIHR will provide a maximum of £150,000 short term funding for SMEs with innovative technologies in the pipeline. This new funding will help SMEs get to the next stage of investment, supporting accelerated development to ensure technologies benefit patients sooner.”

NIHR’s i4i Programme is a translational funding scheme that supports healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need. The aim is to de-risk projects, making them attractive to follow-on funders and investors. i4i Connect is specifically tailored for SMEs at this later point of product development, as well as in the early stage to provide support on the pathway to full i4i funding, with an NHS or academic partner.

Digital health technology catalyst 2017 round 1

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £8 million to speed up development of new digital technology healthcare solutions.

Innovate UK is to invest up to £8 million in projects that develop new digital technology solutions to healthcare challenges.

Feasibility projects must range in size from total project costs of £50,000 to £75,000 and you must complete your project within one year.

Industrial research and experimental development projects must range in size from total project costs of £500,000 to £1 million and you must complete your project within 3 years.

We may consider projects outside this range but you should contact us at least 10 days before the submission deadline to discuss further.

You must start your projects by 1 February 2018.

Projects must focus on the development of digital health or digitally-enabled medical technologies. They must have the potential to achieve one or more of the following:

  • improve patient outcomes
  • transform healthcare delivery
  • enable more efficient delivery of healthcare

You may design technologies for use in clinical or non-clinical everyday settings.

Mental health campaigner presents at mental health app launch

Mental Health campaigner, writer and film producer, Jonny Benjamin MBE, recently joined the launch event for the release of an innovative mental health app, ‘Silver Linings’, by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT).

Silver Linings has been designed to help young people with psychosis in their recovery, through encouraging self-management of their symptoms and engaging with their treatment. The app also helps individuals to track their mood, exercise levels and sleep quality. Silver Linings was created by clinicians from BSMHFT, app experts from web development firm Appadoodle and young people themselves, and was supported by WMAHSN as part of its youth pathway work in mental health.

Jonny Benjamin was invited to the launch as he is known for mental health campaigning and creating YouTube videos about mental health. During his presentation to over 70 of the Trust’s service users and staff, Jonny talked about his upbringing, his struggles with his mental health and his recovery journey. 

Jonny, during his presentation, said: “I believe things are changing and getting better. It can be a constant battle, but it’s a message from both me - and the app - that there is hope. I wish there had been something like [Silver Linings] around when I was younger.”

Dr Erin Turner, Consultant Psychiatrist at BSMHFT, also presented at the event, discussing the journey of the app from initial ideas to its creation. Jamie Pragnall, Managing Director of web development firm Wyamee, also presented, focusing on the functionality of the app. They agreed that although the app has been created for young people suffering from psychosis, it may be useful for anyone, as it looks at mental health and health more broadly. 

Perinatal Mental Health and the Prevention Agenda

As noted in the 2013 NSPCC report ‘Prevention in Mind’ “Mental illnesses affect more than 1 in 10 women during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth, and can have a devastating impact on them and their families”.

Two new innovations aim to address elements of this complex issue:

An online mapping tool has been launched to help health professionals improve services for mothers with mental health problems during pregnancy or the year after birth.
The tool was developed to help local partners rate their local offer against national standards to identify strengths and gaps where more work is needed. The mapping tool has seven themed worksheets, which each set out key standards for perinatal mental health services and pathways that should ideally exist in each local area. 

A new “low stigma” tool to help prevent perinatal mental problems is being developed for potential use by midwives and health visitors. The tool, called the perinatal emotional health check, combines standard mental health screening questions with a new set of questions asking how the mother balances different parts of her life.

Network member receives media recognition for innovative approach to suicide prevention.

WMMHIN member Joy Hibbins runs a Suicide Crisis Centre which serves the whole of Gloucestershire, one of the first to be set up by a person with lived experience of suicidal crisis and who has mental health diagnoses. Joy first accessed mental health services in 2012 following a traumatic experience in March of that year and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a posttraumatic syndrome. When she couldn’t find the kind of help that she needed when she was in crisis, she decided to set up what would have helped her. Since then the centre has evolved to provide what clients say they want and need, a high proportion of men now access the services.  Suicide Crisis has now been open for three years and has never had a suicide of a client under their care. Joy said “We think this is the result of a combination of factors which include the way that our services are set up and our approach and ethos.”  
The Suicide Crisis Centre has also attracted some national attention. Helen Garnham, the national lead on suicide prevention at Public Health England, visited the Crisis Centre and, as a result, asked them to give a presentation about their work at a suicide conference in London earlier this year. She described their work as “inspiring”. Luciana Berger, the former Shadow Minister for Mental Health, asked to visit earlier this year and she met staff and clients. She said in a local radio interview “I’ve been very struck by the important work that’s being done here”.
The work of the Suicide Crisis centre has recently been profiled in The Independent and you can find out more information about the charity at

New dementia app helps memory loss patients find memories

People suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of age-related dementia sometimes have trouble recognising friends and family or knowing what to talk about when they visit. A new app offers to help patients stay connected to their memories – and thus to their friends and family – and perhaps will even help them keep a conversation going.

NHS trust pioneers new home care service

A trust in Devon has become the first NHS provider to enter the home care market, potentially allowing it greater control of standards for patients and staff.

Meridian health innovation exchange.

Meridian is an online health innovation exchange that supports the spread of good practice to deliver improved health and wealth across the West Midlands. 

Meridian is a pioneering interactive platform for anyone to share their innovations and ideas, build groups and networks and make contact with people whose innovations could change healthcare in the West Midlands. The website will support the adoption of good practice in health and social care and share lessons learned from across the sector.

Users – including people from the NHS, academia, industry and the third sector – are able to submit their ideas so that others can comment, suggest ways in which it may be improved and vote for innovations that are good for the region to support and worthy of further development. Alternatively, users can respond to campaigns, where there has been a specific healthcare need identified in the West Midlands which may be solved through an existing or new innovation. 

Meridian moderators, who are active in the innovation community in the West Midlands, will review the submissions to assess the innovation effectively and provide practical support for the development of the idea.

When an idea is submitted, Meridian will notify the user if similar innovations have been submitted, allowing people to partner with others in the community who have had similar insights. Once an innovation has been submitted, the user becomes the Innovation Champion for that idea and they can put the power of the community to work.

Innovator points are awarded for activity such as submitting innovations, commenting on others’ innovations, voting, receiving votes and submitting stories into the Innovation Warehouse. As users accrue points, they attain a higher innovator status as an indicator of their activity in the community and their entrepreneurial insights.

Eating, Design and Dementia: Improving dining in care homes.

Royal College of Art research associate, Gregor Timlin, in partnership with BUPA has designed a range of eating and dining products for people at varying stages of Dementia.  At first glance they appear stylish and adult appropriate, far removed from traditional assistive table-wear.  On closer inspection it is the functionality and benefits to the end users eating experience that are the stand out features of the products. The ability to eat and drink with dignity and independence is often taken for granted, yet is a key indicator of quality of life for care home residents, and these products demonstrate the need for innovative design in this sector.

Memory-aid app for people in the early stages of dementia

Prompt is a service that helps anyone with memory problems make the most of each day. An app provides a visual diary, with images and background information included in reminders. It aims to maintain confidence and independence by putting help in your hands. Users create notes about things they want to remember, the system adds images, maps and contact details and automatically compiles reminders. It also makes links between stored content, to show personal context about people, places and events. A web dashboard is available for family and friends to add photos and information, send messages and reminders and see when they’ve been accessed. Prompt has been designed with people living with dementia, their carers and clinical experts and can be used by anyone concerned about memory problems.