The University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, in partnership with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded £3 million by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to establish a new HealthTech Research Centre (HRC).
The five-year award will support the development and evaluation of innovative health technologies and diagnostics designed to improve patient care in community settings. Researchers will collaborate with industry, healthcare professionals and patient groups to identify unmet needs, generate evidence to support the adoption of beneficial technologies, and accelerate their translation into clinical practice.
The funding is part of a broader initiative by the NIHR, which has allocated almost £42 million to establish 14 new centres across England.
Professor Gail Hayward, Director of the Oxford HRC, said:
“We are thrilled to receive this substantial award from the NIHR to drive forward health technology innovation and evaluation,” said “It will enable our world-leading researchers to have an even greater impact by getting effective technologies to patients more quickly.”
The NIHR Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust HRC – to give it it’s full name – will build on the successful work of the previous NIHR Community Healthcare MedTech and In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative, integrating the evaluation of health technologies into real-world primary and community care. Key focus areas will include respiratory, cancer, , infections, care homes and improving access to care for underserved populations.
Professor Christopher Butler, co-Director of the Oxford HRC, said:
“This centre will foster collaborations to enhance the evaluation and adoption of innovations that can make a real difference to patients, clinicians and the NHS.”
Professor Hayward continued:
“We are delighted to be partnering with the Oxford Health NHS FT as host for this new HRC, as well as working with partners including the Universities of Nottingham and Warwick and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospital. This provides an exciting opportunity to further integrate research and innovation into the delivery of frontline care across our mental health, community health and specialist services.”
The Oxford HRC will collaborate closely with industry, the Health Innovation Network, regulators, NIHR infrastructure, NHS England, NICE and other national bodies to drive the development and adoption of cutting-edge HealthTech innovations nationwide.
The NIHR's funding aims to support government priorities, including levelling up across the country, with a significant portion of the funding allocated to NHS organisations outside the Greater Southeast. The HRCs will support the development of innovations that address major healthcare challenges and support industry, including SMEs and local innovation clusters, in developing new medical technologies and diagnostics.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
“These centres will help bring the latest advances in medical technology into patients’ lives sooner improving care, treatment and diagnosis including for those with cancer, dementia and brain injuries.
“We are already seeing the benefits of previous investment in health technologies – such as using artificial intelligence to predict how different patients respond to medication for inflammatory bowel disease meaning the right treatment is provided to patients sooner.
“I look forward to seeing what our world leading scientists, clinicians and inventors bring forward next.”