SBRI Healthcare: NHS Cancer Programme – Competition 2

Key Features

The NHS Cancer Programme at NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) are looking for innovations or new approaches that will increase the proportion of cancers that are diagnosed at stage one or two.

Programme:     SBRI Healthcare

Award:     Up to £4 million per project

Opens: 5th Apr 2022

Closes: 24th May 2022

! This scheme is now closed


The NHS Cancer Programme at NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) are looking for innovations or new approaches that will increase the proportion of cancers that are diagnosed at stage one or two. This includes innovations in the broadest possible sense, including behavioural interventions, software, or new models of care.


The competition is open to all types of innovations, including but not limited to, medical devices, in-vitro diagnostics, digital health solutions, behavioural interventions, software, artificial intelligence or new models of care. Innovations can be tumour specific or multi-cancer. Applications from multicancer innovations which could have a bigger impact on early diagnosis rates are particularly welcome.

Potential solutions to the challenge include strategies that support:

1. Identifying and testing asymptomatic patients who are most at risk. This includes:

  • Innovations that proactively case find and/or risk stratify populations for whom there is no current screening programme.
  • Innovations to more effectively target, improve uptake/adherence, or reduce unwarranted variation in screening.

2. Encouraging early symptomatic patients to self-assess and present to primary care or other appropriate services. This includes:

  • Innovations that proactively case find those with early signs and symptoms that put them at high risk.
  • Innovations to improve awareness/vigilance of the signs and symptoms of cancer (including vague symptoms), particularly for those cancers, or specific populations, where early presentation is still very low.
  • Innovations that encourage patients to self-present, including in specific populations that typically under refer.
  • Innovations that support ongoing engagement and completion of diagnostic pathways.

3. Assessment of risk in early symptomatic patients presenting to primary care. This includes:

  • Innovations that risk stratify patients or diagnose patients that present with less severe symptoms.
  • Innovations that reduce unwarranted variation in referrals.
  • Innovations that have the potential to deliver quick and easy ‘rule in/rule out’ tests that help prioritise and diagnose at-risk patients.


The competition is open to single organisations (contracts are executed with individual legal entities) based in the UK or EU from the private, public and third sectors, including companies (large corporates and small and medium enterprises), charities, universities and NHS Foundation Trusts, as long as a strong implementation and commercial strategy is provided.

Organisations based outside the UK or EU with innovations in remit for this call can apply as subcontractors of a lead UK/EU based organisation or via a UK or EU subsidiary.

However, due to the nature of the projects supported, all proposals are expected to have partnerships in place with at least an NHS organisation, if they are not already led by one, and engage with appropriate suppliers to cover the expertise required for the successful delivery of the project.

Engagement with Cancer Alliances
and/or Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) is particularly encouraged.

Please note that only NHS clinical sites based in England are eligible.

Funding Costs

The project will be 100% funded up to the value of £4 million (NET) for a maximum of 18 months in the first instance. Successful applicants will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the NHS.

Where appropriate, in-kind contributions and palatable, equitable and affordable innovation prices to the NHS should be considered.

Please ensure the proposed project deliverables could be reasonably achieved within the proposed contract duration, and all requested costs are justified.

Promising innovations may have the opportunity to bid for additional funding (for example scaling up implementation, supporting independent evaluations, etc.) at the end of the contract duration subject to an independent review process.


The innovations below are excluded from the call:

  • Small molecules therapeutics
  • Drugs
  • Tools only focused on increasing efficiency. If an efficiency tool will be deployed alongside the innovation to improve early diagnosis, appropriate standards such as DTAC (Digital Technology Assessment Criteria) should be provided to support the efficiency tool
  • Innovations that are in the ideation/creation phase, have not yet sought regulatory approval (e.g., CE marking, MHRA, NHSX frameworks, etc.) and do not have an evidence base
  • Applications funding purchase of a product without plans to generate real world evidence and conduct implementation studies/evaluations (i.e., procurement exercises)
    In addition, the call will not support basic research; generation of scientific and technological knowledge, development of research ideas, hypotheses and experimental designs that have no practical commercial application, and clinical trials aimed solely at determining effectiveness of a product.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.