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Willetts pledges GBP3.7m to fund photonics-based healthcare innovation

David Willetts, the UK’s Minister for Universities and Science, has announced a GBP3.7m investment to fund projects that apply innovative photonics technologies to solve challenges in the health sector.

The investment seeks to encourage the formation of new business-led partnerships between academia, industry and health providers, to validate and highlight new applications of photonics in healthcare.

The investment will be administered by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency and run as a two-part process – the first part being a single-stage competition for feasibility studies, including at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) and lasting between six and 12 months. GBP1.5m will be allocated to this strand, with individual project awards of up around GBP100,000.

The second part is a two-stage competition for collaborative R&D projects, again, including at least one SME. Projects will last between 12 and 24 months. GBP2.2m is allocated to this strand, with individual project awards of up to GBP750,000 available.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy board, says: “This is an important announcement for the UK bio-photonics industry, particularly because of the collaborative nature of the competition, which will stimulate innovation and new cross-sector, industry-led collaborations across all tiers of the supply chain in photonics for health.

“The involvement of clinical and industrial end-users in both the feasibility studies and R&D stages of the competition will help ensure not just that the NHS and clinicians fully understand the potential of next generation photonic technologies, but that they can bring their expertise to bear in the development of a range of new tools for less invasive diagnosis and surgery.”

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