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Guest blog: A bright future for child health technology in our region

Written by: Professor Paul Dimitri - 22nd February 2021

Next week sees the launch of the UK’s first Child Health Technology Conference, Child Health Technology 2021 (CHT 2021). Yorkshire & Humber AHSN are proud to be sponsors of this event as we continue our work to support the development, adoption and spread of child health innovation in our region and across the country. To mark the coming of CHT 2021 we will be posting a series of blogs and news articles throughout this week profiling some of the innovators we’re working with at the moment.  

Our series kicks off with Professor Paul Dimitri, Founder of CHT2021Director of the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Co-operative, Professor of Child Health, and Director of Research and Innovation at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, telling the story of how child health technology has developed in our region and his ambitions for its future growth.  

Children are the future; they will define the health, wealth and welfare of our country. Children and Young People have embraced technology in their daily lives. Technology supports education, social activities and communication. Thus, a new generation that views technology as a part of daily life will expect technology that supports self-management, healthcare communication and remote monitoring. In the next decade we are likely to see a large-scale change in the way we deliver healthcare whereby tasks currently delivered in hospital or community healthcare settings can be carried out remotely. This could lead to a dramatic social shift whereby new methods of healthcare delivery for children and young-people could enable more time in social and educational settings and change the way in which we approach healthcare prevention. 

The National TITCH Network 

In 2014, the first national network to support the development of child health technology was developed – TITCH (Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health) – and was initially funded by a Yorkshire & Humber AHSN grant. This was driven by a clear need to bring centres together to work collaboratively on the development of technology that was specific to children and young people. Despite the perception that the paediatric market is small, our population of children and young people in the UK make up 25% of the population; we have the highest birth rate and largest childhood population in Europe. The National TITCH Network brought together clinicians, academics, designers, computer scientists, private sector partners from large and small multinationals and most importantly children and their parents to identify unmet needs and support the development and evaluation of child health technology. Through a series of workshops, the TITCH Network identified over 100 unmet needs. By working with funders, the TITCH Network leveraged over £6 million in funding for technology projects that were specific to children and young people. The TITCH network now comprises over 40 members with multi-profession expertise. 

NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Cooperative  

As the TITCH Network grew, there was a clear need to support and focus on technology development in key clinical areas where unmet needs had been identified. This resulted in the launch of the first paediatric NIHR Medtech and In-vitro diagnostic Cooperative (MIC) namely the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Cooperative (NIHR CYP MedTech). NIHR CYP MedTech works with clinical teams, businesses, academics, charities, children, young people, and families to support the development and adoption of technology for child health and paediatrics. NIHR CYP MedTech is hosted by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. It focuses on earlystage technology development and prioritises innovations in seven clinical themes. The NIHR CYP MedTech 2018-2019 biennial report published last year demonstrated the value of working as a collaborative network to support technology development for children and young peopleIn the first two years, NIHR CYP MedTech has leveraged over £6 million in funding for child health technology development, identified 114 unmet needs, worked with 71 SMEs and 23 global organisations, and worked on 60 projects of which 40% had an industry partner or input.  


This year NIHR CYP MedTech will host the UK’s first child health technology conference. CHT2021 will bring together healthcare professionals, industry experts, engineers, designers, games developers, legal experts, academics, and patient representatives around one of the most exciting and fastmoving fields in healthcare today. CHT2021 will be broadcast online on 2-5 March 2021. There is an exciting programme of inspirational keynote talks, seminars, live Q&A sessions, cutting edge research updates, advice about commercialisation and technology demonstrations in one of the fastest growing fields in medicine. I would strongly encourage you to join the conference to learn about the key opportunities available in the world of healthcare technology development. 

The Future – The National Centre for Child Health Technology  

The next and most ambitious step is to develop the National Centre for Child Health Technology (CCHT), set to provide the world’s most advanced healthcare for children and young people. The CCHT will drive child health technology research at pace and scale, stimulate technical innovation, attract inward investment and support sustainable change and reduce costs to the NHS. The CCHT will be an international centre of excellence supporting world-leading research and innovation through partnerships between industry, clinical and academic experts, positioning the UK as a global leader in child health. Located on the Sheffield Olympic Legacy park, the 4,000 sqm CCHT will be co-located with other centres of excellence including the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, the National Centre for Food Engineering and the English Institute of Sport adding to an evolving world-leading innovation ecosystem of health, wellbeing, education and sport. The adjacent Oasis Academy School and the University Technical College will provide unrivalled research opportunities and inspire careers for our local children in the fields of medicine and health technology. 

The current pandemic has brought some challenging child health issues back into stark focus – childhood obesity, mental health, access to healthcare for children with complex health needs and collectively the need to ensure that we protect children as they develop. The established child heath technology networks and the National Centre for Child Health Technology will play a central role in ensuring that we advance the way we deliver healthcare and drive prevention for children to ensure the future is bright. 

Find out more about TITCH  

Find out more about the NIHR CYP MedTech 

Read the NIHR CYP MedTech 2018-2019 biennial report 

Find out more and register for the CHT2021 Conference