£2m for innovative solutions to help tackle kidney disease

Six UK firms to share £2m moneypot to develop new technologies for renal patients

Six innovative companies will receive a share of over £2m as part of a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition aimed at developing new, cutting-edge technology solutions to help kidney patients.

The competition is funded by the Department of Health and managed by the National Institute for Health Research Healthcare Technology Co-operative’s Devices for Dignity (D4D) initiative.

It gives small businesses the opportunity to develop ideas and technologies that could prevent kidney disease, allow earlier diagnosis, and give patients with kidney failure greater independence, enabling treatment closer to home. They will also play a key role in reducing the significant burden of treatments that individuals living with severe kidney disease often endure.

Competitions such as this help the development of cutting-edge technologies, which will make a real difference to NHS kidney patients

Over the next 12-24 months the six winners will develop solutions to address some of the most-pressing issues in kidney care. These include prevention of acute kidney injury, a condition that is estimated to affect 4.9% of hospital patients and, in severe cases, can be associated with a 10-20% chance of death within one year.

Another team’s focus will be on the early identification of peritoneal infections, the most-common cause of hospitalisation among patients on peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is a technique used for patients with severe kidney disease that uses the patient's own body tissues inside the abdominal cavity as a filter.

The significant ‘patient transport’ burden experienced by kidney dialysis patients will also be addressed with a radical new approach to delivering transport for kidney disease patients and the development of a new type of diagnostic and monitoring test allowing patients to manage their condition at home. This will enable kidney patients to be further supported and seen in the community, reducing the number of hospital visits required.

In addition, the development of a novel self-help web-based solution will help patients better manage their condition and adhere to their medicines.

The final team will develop a method of making transplantation with blood-group-incompatible donors more accessible.

Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman, said: “Competitions such as this help the development of cutting-edge technologies, which will make a real difference to NHS kidney patients. The UK is fast becoming the world leader in 21st-century bio-medicine and life science, driving innovation and supporting small businesses to grow.”

The UK is fast becoming the world leader in 21st-century bio-medicine and life science, driving innovation and supporting small businesses to grow

D4D clinical director, Professor Wendy Tindale OBE, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Department of Health to capitalise on the fantastic ideas and energy of the UK’s small business industry to devise and develop practical products and solutions that could make a real difference to the lives of thousands of kidney disease sufferers.

“D4D is specialist national centre, hosted in Sheffield and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, with a remit to empower patients with long-term illnesses to live more-dignified and independent lives through the development of user-friendly technologies. We have used our extensive networks with the kidney community to ensure the competition addressed the needs of patients by seeking input from patients, clinicians, academics and industry.”

And David Coyle, a home haemodialysis patient and D4D renal patient lead, said: “The quality of the ideas that are being developed is very impressive. It is particularly notable that the teams have engaged with patients at an early stage and this has significantly influenced the final design outcomes. I am confident that these new innovations will deliver real benefits to patients in the near future”.

The six winners are:

  • Patientrack, Somerset – An automated information technology system to calculate the risk of acute kidney injury and to detect and alert clinical teams of acute kidney injury in patients so they can quickly ensure the right team are providing the right care for these patients
  • 365 Response, Wakefield - A booking app for patient transport, a key factor for delays in haemodialysis treatment
  • Microsensor, Manchester – The company is developing a point-of-care safety monitor to improve infection control for peritoneal dialysis patients
  • IF Sensing, Manchester - A device allowing monitoring of kidney function at home using interstitial fluid rather than in hospital
  • NIRI, Leeds - A system to remove antibodies for patients due to have blood group incompatible transplants which can be used simultaneously with haemodialysis, reducing treatment time and time spent in hospital
  • Atlantis Healthcare, London - An online support programme using health-psychology based coping exercises to improve self-management in order to delay disease progression

Companies