MFT awarded £3m to develop innovative technology solutions to improve health outcomes in Greater Manchester

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) £2,998,433 from 1 April 2024 to develop innovative technology solutions for better diagnosis, treatment, and care for people across our region.

Part of a new £42m government funding scheme, the NIHR Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust HealthTech Research Centre (MFT-HRC) is one of 14 HRCs across England, which will transform urgent and emergency care by developing and deploying new technologies for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of disease, and embedding these technologies to shape the future of health and care services for the benefit of our patients.

Steve Barclay, Former Health and Social Care Secretary, 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.”

MFT-HRC will bring together companies, NHS clinicians, academics, the public and patients to test and commercialise new healthcare technologies aimed at improving urgent and emergency care in the community and the hospital. These technologies will benefit patients and NHS organisations by ensuring that diseases are diagnosed earlier, and appropriate treatments are provided sooner so that patients get optimal care through planned services.

Mark Cubbon, MFT Group Chief Executive, said: “Greater Manchester plays a key role as a regional centre for clinical research and innovation (R&I). At MFT we have supported the development and expansion of R&I so that our patients can benefit from innovative technologies and treatments which deliver better outcomes.

“We are incredibly proud to expand on our partnerships with NIHR to ensure that state-of-the-art technologies are assisting our clinicians to diagnose diseases earlier and ensure appropriate treatments are provided sooner to our patients from Greater Manchester and beyond. The MFT-HRC will support our ability to scale up innovation across the North West and address some of the most pressing health challenges we face.”

To achieve its aims, MFT-HRC will consist of four themes which will work together seamlessly:

  1. Community care, primary care and the community-secondary care interface: Using health care technologies in the community so that patients do not need to go to A&E for diagnosis and treatment (receiving patient-centred care in the right place).
  2. Secondary care: Allowing quicker, better diagnosis in the hospitals setting, ensuring patients get the right care to patients at the right time.
  3. Understanding the problem: How many people are affected, what is the cost to the NHS/economy, what will the benefit be to patients (especially groups who might be more prone to certain conditions) and the NHS.
  4. Evaluating the solution: Clinical studies to ensure the technology is safe and effective, and statistical/economic analysis to ensure it can be used in the NHS.

MFT-HRC is committed to ensuring equality, diversity and inclusivity is championed in all its programmes and activities. Patients and the public will be involved throughout project development, ensuring that health technologies are fit for purpose and accessible for all.  Through existing and new networks, MFT-HRC will actively engage with under-served populations to ensure true representation in studies, ensuring health technologies benefit the diverse populations of Greater Manchester and the wider UK, and are effective regardless of an individual’s ethnic group, gender, background or any other characteristic.

Dr Tim Felton, Director of NIHR MFT-HRC and Consultant in Intensive Care and Respiratory Medicine at MFT, said: “We are thrilled to be awarded this funding from the NIHR to transform urgent and emergency care by developing and deploying new technologies for detection, diagnosis and monitoring of disease at pace and scale across the health and care sector.

“Whilst this is the culmination of seven years work to reach this stage, it is only the beginning for MFT, and the Greater Manchester R&I ecosystem, as we bring together clinicians, researchers, industry, and patients and the public, to support the adoption and implementation to meet the unmet and underserved needs across our city-region, and to tackle health inequalities for the diverse communities we serve.”

MFT-HRC will work with regulatory experts and organisations to ensure its work maximises the chance of adoption and benefits patients, and will help companies bring their technologies to market, bringing investment into the Greater Manchester region and the UK.

Rick Body, Group Director of Research and Innovation at MFT, said: “In 2018, MFT recognised the importance of collaborative research into health technology and invested in the setup of its Diagnostics and Technology Accelerator (DiTA). I am now particularly pleased that MFT will be joining the NIHR HRC community. It is testament to the hard work of so many people who made DiTA successful. A particular highlight, for me, was the COVID-19 National DiagnOstic Research and evaluation (CONDOR) platform, which showcased MFT’s strength and talent in high-quality health technology and diagnostic research.

“Through our commitment to collaborative working and strategic partnerships with industry, we have demonstrated a clear innovation pathway that produces benefit for our patients, clinical colleagues and the wider health and care system for broader economic gain. The MFT-HRC will allow us to capitalise and expand to provide even greater benefit across all those areas.”

The new HRC scheme will support innovative projects while also building capacity and expertise to support the development of health and care technologies to meet the growing demands of our population. The HRCs will develop technology for hospitals and in general practice as well as for use within community and social care settings, allowing patients to benefit from these innovations wherever they come into contact with the health and care system.

Professor Graham Lord, Vice-President and Dean of The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, said: “We are delighted to partner with MFT on what is another exciting development for our R&I ecosystem in Greater Manchester.

“Through our outstanding clinical academic research at The University of Manchester we will support MFT-HRC to build on and improve its expertise and increase specialist skills and capabilities to maximise it’s potential to create a real step change across the city-region”.

The HRCs will drive innovation and efficiency, bringing new technologies to those who need them most, support the health and care workforce to reduce workload, and help alleviate pressures on the health and care system.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care and CEO of the NIHR, said: “Research into health technology is recognised as being of vital importance for patients, carers and users, our workforce, and the wider health and care system.

 “The establishment of the NIHR Healthtech Research Centres shows our firm commitment to driving innovation in healthtech research from conception through to adoption.

 “Our existing research centres in MedTech have delivered new technologies that have helped prevent, diagnose and treat ill health for many individuals, as well as ensuring increased efficiencies in the health and care system. “The increased funding for the HealthTech Research Centres will build capacity and expertise in health technologies, bring new innovations to market and enable people to live healthier, better-quality lives.”