Funding awarded to establish new HealthTech Research Centre

The Trust has been awarded £3 million by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to establish a new HealthTech Research Centre (HRC).

From 1 April 2024, the five-year award will support the development and evaluation of new diagnostic innovations for cancer, infectious and respiratory diseases, critical care, and primary and social care. These key focus areas have been selected based on gaps identified in the NHS workplan in areas of unmet needs.

The Centre will bring together researchers, healthcare professionals, industry, and patient groups to identify unmet needs, generate evidence to support the adoption of new diagnostic innovations and digital technologies, and accelerate their translation into clinical practice. These technologies will enable people to:

  • better monitor their health
  • diagnose ill health sooner
  • improve management of long-term conditions

The funding is part of a broader initiative by the NIHR, which has allocated almost £42 million to establish 14 new centres across England. Each HRC will be hosted by an NHS organisation in England, bringing industry, academia and the health and care system together. 

Led by Professor George Hanna, the NIHR Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust HRC will build on the successful works of the previous NIHR Medtech and In Vitro Diagnostic Co-operative (MIC) scheme, to provide a ‘one-stop’ world-class research facility to generate the evidence needed to accelerate the adoption of innovative diagnostics in the NHS.

Despite a focus on diagnostic research over recent years, translation from technology invention to clinical practice remains a challenge. Currently only 7% of NICE-recommended products are adopted at scale.

Commenting on the award, Professor George Hanna, consultant general surgeon at the Trust and head of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, said:

"We are thrilled to receive the NIHR funding and looking forward to engaging with clinicians, academics and industry to translate innovations to clinical practice that will have an impact on patient care and quality of life."

Interactions with industry

The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust HRC will collaborate closely with industry partners to support the development of diagnostic projects at different stages. They will work closely with carers, patients and users at all stages.

This will feed into the Trust’s existing collaborations with industry, such as Paddington Life Sciences, which is a partnership group made up of NHS, industry, community and academic organisations with a shared commitment to the local community it serves in Paddington and beyond. 

The 14 new HRCs will keep the UK at the forefront of research and the place companies want to come to in order to invest in the development of health technologies.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care and CEO of the NIHR, said:

“Research into health technology is recognised as being of vital importance for patients, carers and users, our workforce, and the wider health and care system. The establishment of the NIHR Healthtech Research Centres shows our firm commitment to driving innovation in healthtech research from conception through to adoption.

“Our existing research centres in MedTech have delivered new technologies that have helped prevent, diagnose and treat ill health for many individuals, as well as ensuring increased efficiencies in the health and care system.

“The increased funding for the HealthTech Research Centres will build capacity and expertise in health technologies, bring new innovations to market and enable people to live healthier, better-quality lives.”