Enterprise Ireland and HSE in €200,000 diabetes medtech call

13 Dec 2018767 Views

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From left: Tom Kelly, Enterprise Ireland; Gemma Murphy with her baby son Alex; Prof Sean Dinneen, HSE; and Dr Ana Terres, HSE. Image: Orla Murray/SON Photo

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SMEs and start-ups have a chance to co-design impactful global products with clinicians.

In the first collaboration of its kind between Enterprise Ireland and the HSE, small businesses and start-ups across Ireland have a shot at accessing a €200,000 fund to create products to tackle diabetes.

The competition, enabled through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative, offers a unique opportunity for innovative companies to co-design solutions with clinicians.

‘This is a valuable opportunity for SMEs to win a development contract with the HSE and co-design impactful, commercial solutions with the potential to reach a global market’
– TOM KELLY

Through this SBIR challenge, successful companies are awarded a 100pc-funded development contract with the HSE, with up to €200,000 available to multiple winners across a two-phase competitive process. Phase 1 is an initial feasibility study, followed by product development in Phase 2, where companies retain the IP developed.

A challenge for the innovation nation

The challenge is to harness innovation and technology to help diabetes patients avoid the development of typical complications associated with the disease and to receive appropriate care at an earlier stage when complications arise.

‘Diabetes is a complex condition that can have a profound impact on quality of life’
– PROF SEAN DINNEEN

The diabetes challenges will specifically target two areas: reducing the risk of women developing type 2 diabetes following gestational diabetes, and screening for diabetic foot disease in all patients with diabetes.

Gestational diabetes affects one in six pregnancies globally and these women are at increased risk of developing diabetes after the pregnancy. All people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing complications, which can cause damage to the feet such as ulceration and amputation.

“Diabetes has become a serious global health issue, which can benefit from innovative solutions to help reduce complications from the disease,” explained Tom Kelly, head of innovation at Enterprise Ireland.

“We’ve monitored health innovation best practices in UK, and we see huge potential for SBIR to deliver cheaper, smarter, more ‘fit for purpose’ technologies, as has been achieved in the NHS. This is a valuable opportunity for SMEs to win a development contract with the HSE and co-design impactful, commercial solutions with the potential to reach a global market.”

The invitation to tender will be released on eTenders on the week beginning Monday 17 December. Interested parties will need to be registered on eTenders to access and apply.

“This is about HSE clinicians working in a unique way with firms to use technology and digital innovation to ensure that fewer Irish citizens develop avoidable complications of diabetes,” explained consultant physician and HSE clinical lead for diabetes, Prof Sean Dinneen.

“Usually, as HSE clinicians, we have to decide in advance what is the product or service we want to procure; with SBIR, we uniquely present the problem to the firms, and then we can get involved in helping to design the solution.

“Diabetes is a complex condition that can have a profound impact on quality of life. For example, an individual with diabetes is 22 times more likely to undergo a non-traumatic amputation than an individual without diabetes. We know that implementing a comprehensive screening programme in all people with diabetes, with appropriate intervention as required, can make a real difference.

“Another important issue for us as a diabetes national programme is to address diabetes prevention. Women who have had gestational diabetes are known to be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in their future lives. Applying technology to help them reduce this risk would be a real help to our health service. We are looking forward to working with Enterprise Ireland to address some of these critical challenges with a view to improving the lives and health of Irish citizens.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com