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SBRI Healthcare targets mental health

Posted: 18th July 2018

SBRI Healthcare, the NHS England funded initiative championed by the AHSN Network, today announced the programme’s latest round of funding is supporting companies to develop novel solutions to tackle the challenges of mental illness.

Mental health problems account for a quarter of all ill health in the UK with mental illness being the single largest cause of disability. One in four of us will experience mental health problems each year at an estimated economic and social annual cost of £105 billion1.

Sharing in £700K investment, the seven successful companies have all demonstrated the potential of their innovations to help alleviate the current pressures on mental health services and support positive mental health. Areas of particular focus were ‘Children and Young People’s Mental Health’, ‘Depression, Self-harm and Suicide’ and ‘New Models of Care’.

Among the winning technologies:

  • an immersive gaming technology to improve access to, and effectiveness of, current frontline treatments of children’s anxiety, using gamification to increase therapy adherence.
  • a voice-operated ‘conversational’ smartphone app designed to deliver a purpose-built cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programme to treat anxiety in adolescents.
  • a software platform that can automatically create and deliver personalised virtual reality (VR) content to address mental health issues that lead to depression, self-harm and suicide.
  • a digital support programme using innovative methods for enhancing the role of the young peer supporter through a multi-media training portal and online supervision chat room to reduce use of specialist services and help address the stigma associated with mental health.

Each project has received funding in the range of £84,000 to £100,000 and will aim to demonstrate technical feasibility over a six-month development phase.

Professor Chris Hollis, Chair of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Director, NIHR MindTech MedTech Co-operative commented: “A significant proportion of mental health problems in adults start early in life and therefore interventions in childhood are essential to avert the development of long-term problems. Furthermore, only about one quarter of children and young people with mental health problems currently receive any treatment. The successful companies who presented to the review board could really benefit children and young adults with innovations that have potential to increase access, provide more efficient and flexible services and improve outcomes.”

Stuart Monk, Director of Delivery at South West AHSN added: “Positive awareness for mental health is on the rise and more people are accessing specialist mental health services. Whilst progress is being made to reduce waiting times it is important we encourage new ideas that can benefit patients seeking help. The AHSN Network is looking forward to working with the winners of this latest SBRI Healthcare competition to support them in making a real impact.”

The companies (and supporting Academic Health Science Network) are: BfB Labs (Imperial College Health Partners); Cadscan Ltd (North West Coast AHSN); emteq Ltd (Surrey & Sussex AHSN); Mayden House Ltd (West of England AHSN); Sentireal Ltd (Northern Ireland); UDAMO Ltd (Kent, Surrey & Sussex AHSN); XenZone Ltd (Greater Manchester AHSN).

For more information on SBRI Healthcare visit