Innovation news in brief: ArtificiaI intelligence; PhysioWizard; agri-food; nuclear

The app will answer questions parents and children may have about their stay

Hartree Centre taps into AI to improve patient experience at Alder Hey

The Hartree Centre is teaming up with Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool to create an AI app to help patients and doctors work better together.

Alder Hey and the STFC's Hartree Centre believe that by applying IBM’s Watson — a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer — will enhance patient care and potentially generate savings for both the hospital and the NHS.

The app will answer any questions which parents and children may have about their hospital stay. Using Watson, Alder Hey will be able to dentify patient anxieties and provide information and reassurance on-demand; reminding young patients and their parents about appointments and about aftercare; and providing feedback to clinicians based on the tone and sentiment of these interactions.

Using the data, clinicians at Alder Hey hope to make a hospitable stay for a child less daunting, by providing a more personalised service for a child while also being able to identify clinical trends more quickly that could affect patient flow and effectively make significant cost savings.

Iain Hennessey, a paediatric surgeon and director of innovation at Alder Hey, said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity for Alder Hey to pilot this groundbreaking technology and learn how to transform IT capability and working practices in healthcare, not just in the UK but across the world. Helping our patients and their families prepare properly for coming into hospital will really reduce their anxiety and could mean we can get them better and home faster.”

Universities and science minister Jo Johnson said: “The healthcare sector is undergoing tremendous development right now, driven by data, digital technologies and cognitive computing. This unique collaboration showcases the UK’s role at the forefront of science, innovation and healthcare, and will make a real difference to the care and experience of patients and clinicians in Alder Hey children’s hospital.”

PhysioWizard wins MediCity Scotland’s business accelerator programme

Medtech start-up PhysioWizard has become the first company to win MediCity Scotland’s DEVELOP Accelerator Programme.

PhysioWizard, which was founded by chartered physiotherapist Kirsten Lord, is the world’s first clinically validated and CE-marked online self-assessment platform that treats people with back pain.

The hands-on 12-week programme provides companies in the medtech, digital health and wellbeing sectors with intensive support from a network of expert coaches from industry and the wider eco-system.

Kirsten said: “Lower back pain is the biggest cause of ill health in the world and the PhysioWizard collects data from the patient and uses a series of sophisticated software algorithms to triage the patient’s condition to give advice and treatment.

Entrepreneurs that took part in the programme, alongside winners PhysioWizard, were:

• Ahoi.Life - a long term approach to positive behavioural changes leading to healthier lives

• Soapurity - providing an alternative to treating various skin conditions

• Clinspec (University of Strathclyde) - serum diagnostics for cancer

• Precision Tooling (University of Strathclyde) – 3D ultra-precision machine solutions

• Crucible MedTech - market focussed product development

• ClydeScope Health (University of Strathclyde) - automating drug delivery to prevent hypo’s

Toby Reid, managing director of BioCity said: “I’m very pleased to welcome PhysioWizard to MediCity Scotland and look forward to continuing our one-to-one support and mentorship as this innovative company takes its next steps. Life science businesses based at the BioCity Nottingham have had a 91% survival rate over the last 12 years, which clearly demonstrates the benefits that clustering similar businesses together in a supportive environment can bring.”

Agri-food innovation in Turkey: apply for business funding

UK businesses can win a share of £1.5 million to work with Turkish businesses on solutions to challenges in the agri-food sector in Turkey.

Innovate UK is working with TÜBİTAK, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, to fund this competition.

The Turkish food and agriculture industry is one of the country’s biggest sectors. It contributes 7.1% of the GDP and a quarter of jobs in the country. The sector is strong and vibrant but with a lot of small farmers and limited cultivable land.

Innovate UK is seeking to support technical feasibility studies and industrial research. Projects should focus on the following challenges.

  • Using waste by-products and residues from the Turkish agri-food industry to reduce their negative environmental impact and add value
  • Improving agricultural productivity of small and medium sized-farmers through upgrading agricultural technology
  • Improving animal and plant breeding within Turkey

Find out more and apply online

£12 million contracts awarded to support nuclear decommissioning research

R&D framework contracts worth up to £12 million have been awarded to UK universities, global corporations and 20 SMEs by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Following a five-month procurement process, three new framework contracts were awarded to 10 consortia, involving more than 70 organisations and including three consortia led by SMEs. The contracts, last awarded in 2012, will run to 2020.

NDA research manager Yvonne Morris said: “It was very pleasing to see so many SMEs being engaged in the process and being part of successful consortia. Overall we were delighted with the high quality of the submissions and look forward to working with the organisations on our strategic R&D programme. We now have new multi-supplier contracts aligned with our key strategic themes. With many new organisations involved for the first time we will have broad input into addressing our R&D requirements.

Manchester City partners with Chinese smart TV start-up

Manchester City has announced a partnership with Chinese smart TV start-up Whaley.

The partnership will involve the club producing exclusive 4k content to showcase Whaley’s technology.

The Alibaba-backed start-up joins the club’s growing list of Chinese partners ahead of games in Beijing and Shenzhen this July.

The brand will  appear on the back of City’s playing kits for its games against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund as part of the club’s visit to China in July.