A new competition to address health complications that arise as a result of diabetes has been announced by Enterprise Ireland and the HSE through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative. The health and wellness challenges aim 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.
This is the first SBIR collaboration between Enterprise Ireland and the HSE which offers a unique opportunity for innovative companies to co-design solutions with clinicians.
Through this SBIR challenge, successful companies are awarded a 100% funded development contract with the HSE, with up to €200K 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.
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.
Tom Kelly, Head of Innovation , Enterprise Ireland said: ‘‘Diabetes has become a serious global health issue which can benefit from innovative solutions to help reduce complications from the disease. Enterprise Ireland is proud to partner with the HSE on our first SBIR health challenge to harness the best in innovation to address a global health problem. We’ve monitored health innovation best practises 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.”
Consultant physician and HSE Clinical lead for Diabetes, Professor Sean Dinneen said: “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. 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.’’
Gemma Murphy from Kilnamanagh, Tallaght in Dublin 24, attended the SBIR launch with her baby son, Alex. Gemma developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy. She said: ‘‘This is a great initiative. I would really welcome any innovation that would help to reduce the risk of women developing Type 2 diabetes following gestational diabetes. I developed gestational diabetes when I was pregnant in 2017 and I know now that I’m at an increased risk of developing diabetes. So any innovation that would reduce this risk for pregnant women would be really welcome.’’
The HSE’s Chief Clinical Information Officer, Yvonne Goff said: ‘‘We are delighted to partner with Enterprise Ireland on this Small Business Innovative Research Programme. Technology is a fundamental enabler in the effective and efficient delivery of health services. This initiative represents a significant combined effort to harness the potential of technology to deliver real solutions for diabetes patients.
We are driven by a desire to enhance the health and well-being of the people of this country and this project has real potential to deliver improvements for patients with diabetes.’’
The Invitation to Tender will be released on e-tenders on the week beginning Monday 17 December. Interested parties will need to be registered on e-tenders to access and apply.