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Tech innovation funding to help people in self-isolation

£500,000 available to companies to create digital support solutions

Technology companies are invited to bid for up to £25,000 each to come up with digital support solutions for people in the UK who are self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department for Health and Social Care announced on 23 March that £500,000 of funding was available through its Techforce19 challenge.

Solutions could include: providing remote social care; optimising the volunteer sector; improving mental health support; and any other solutions to ease pressures on services and people, the government said.

“If people cannot leave the house, we need to quickly find ways to bring support to them and today I am calling on the strength of our innovative technology sector to take on this challenge,” said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock. “Techforce19 will mobilise the UK’s incredible reservoir of talent to develop simple, accessible tools that can be rolled out quickly and help tackle the effect of social isolation.”

The programme is being launched by NHSX, an NHS unit dedicated to the digital transformation of health and social care and managed by PUBLIC, a GovTech venture firm.

This tech scheme comes as the government announced winners of the first round of funding call for £20 million research response to Covid-19, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research, and by UK Research and Innovation.

The winners are six research projects, including two focused on vaccination trials, and others on drugs and identifying people most at risk.

The funding went to six teams based at:

  • University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, University of Liverpool – £4.9 million
  • University of Oxford – £2.2 million
  • University of Oxford – £2.1 million
  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Imperial College London – £0.6 million
  • University of Oxford – £0.4 million
  • Queens University Belfast – £0.3 million