Health Innovation Challenge Fund: Smart Surgery | Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust has recently announced the latest call for proposals in the Health Innovation Challenge Fund:

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HICF) is a parallel funding partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health. The funders are collaborating to stimulate the creation of innovative healthcare products, technologies and interventions, and facilitate their development for the benefit of patients in the NHS and beyond.

The current call, which closes for preliminary applications on 28th April 2011, is Smart Surgery: Innovative technologies or interventions to reduce, replace or refine invasive surgical procedures. Here’s a summary of the key requirements for the call:

Smart Surgery, involving a replacement (or significant reduction) of invasiveness, will reduce trauma and recovery times, improve post-surgical management, decrease surgery-associated morbidity and mortality, shorten in-patient stays and lower healthcare costs.

The HICF is seeking solutions that will make a tangible difference, in particular:

1. New techniques that blend advances in software, technology and instrumentation, and which are designed and implemented through partnerships between leading surgeons and technical innovators.

2. Innovations which may lead to replacement of invasive surgery with a non-invasive procedure.

3. Improvements on current devices or instruments that demonstrably and significantly reduce the degree of surgical invasiveness.

4. Integrated systems capable of combining early diagnosis and identification of target areas prior to the surgical procedure, thus allowing immediate treatment.

5. Highly innovative and integrative approaches involving advanced technologies such as:

  • Computer-aided non-surgical methods.
  • Sophisticated guidance techniques that de-skill and de-risk surgical tasks.
  • Pre-investigative,image-guided assessments of surgical outcomes, e.g. through modelling of post-surgical states.
  • Use of electromagnetic or ultrasonic radiation to treat target areas/conditions
  • Targeted delivery of therapeutic cells or microparticles
  • Mechatronics and robotics.
  • Innovative strategies for recording and evaluating performance of new technologies e.g. embedded observational databases.
  • Technologies which improve the accuracy and/or precision of a procedure.

Universities, companies and NHS organisations are eligible to apply singly or in collaboration and in fact collaboration and multi-disciplinary working is strongly encouraged in the call. Please note that this is not a “proof of concept” fund – HCIF will only fund innovations which are ready to be translated into new technology. Scalability is also important: work will not be funded which relies on the skill of a single surgeon, for example.