SBRI: Skin Cancer detection using Artificial Intelligence

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £500,000 inclusive of VAT, over the 2 phases of the competition. The aim of this competition is to improve existing AI algorithms for skin cancer to accelerate detection and diagnosis.

Programme:     SBRI

Award:     Share of up to £500,000

Opens: 27th Mar 2023

Closes: 19th May 2023

! This scheme is now closed


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP)


The aim of this competition is to improve existing AI algorithms for skin cancer to accelerate detection and diagnosis. To achieve this, applicants will be required to work with real world images and metadata in a standardised, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) format in a trusted research environment.

The data pipeline that has been created for this challenge contains standardised image and metadata. This will be captured as part of everyday patient pathways from specifically designed community locality image centres, labelled by consultant dermatologists, and delivered as DICOM format files.

The specific use case for these algorithms is the stream of potential skin cancer referrals from primary to secondary care.

You must:

  • have an algorithm that has been developed for potential skin cancer referrals from primary to secondary care
  • detail how you will work with the identified test bed and academic research partner by delivering R&D services to develop your solution in preparation for integration into clinical practice and work towards product approval across UK health systems
  • set out a plan to work towards necessary approval in the all the UK health systems
  • demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results including plans to achieve regulatory compliance where required.

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only.

You must define your goals in your application and outline your plan for the potential phase 2.

In phase 2 we will ask successful applicants from phase 1 to further improve and refine the capability of their algorithm

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

In phase 1 you must work closely with stakeholders to undertake a feasibility project to refine your existing skin cancer algorithms using the new dermatology DICOM standard.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validating the diagnostic capability of an existing algorithm using real world data.

At this stage contracts will only be given to successful applicants from phase 1. Progression to a potential phase 2 is dependent on the outcomes from phase 1.


Phase 1 projects must:

  • aim to start by 1 September 2023
  • end 4 months after the agreed start date
  • work with the identified NHS Scotland Regional Test Bed and academic research partner to develop their solution
  • provide details of certification and compliance with relevant standards and regulations for developed algorithms, for example: CA/CE mark, ISO13485

Successful applicants from phase 1 will be invited to apply to take part in a potential phase 2 of the competition.

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size, registered in the UK, European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • work alone or with others from business, academia research, and technology organisations or the third sector, as subcontractors

You must work in conjunction with the identified test bed partner and identified academic research partner. The initial test bed site will be NHS Tayside working with the academic research partner, The Health Informatics Centre in Dundee University.

This competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can engage specialists or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

Organisations are advised to only lead on one application per technology.


SBRI will not fund projects that:

  • involve development of completely new algorithms and commercially available algorithms developed without use of real-world healthcare data
  • focus on the development of data capture, storage or transmission solutions
  • would directly duplicate other UK government, Scottish government, NHS or EU funded initiatives you have already been funded to deliver
  • do not include an evaluation phase, and a plan to collect information to inform a cost or benefit analysis
  • do not demonstrate a credible plan for acquiring data which would support product approval in all 4 UK healthcare systems

Funding Costs

A total of up to £500,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated across phase 1 and phase 2 of this competition.

Phase 1 feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts will be up to £30,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 4 months. We will fund up to 3 projects.

In phase 1, you must:

  • work with real-life data sets
  • demonstrate the technical feasibility of your algorithm to detect and triage skin cancer using the new dermatology Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard
  • establish ongoing collaboration between technical and clinical members of the project team

We would welcome applications that bring together sector specialists.

The potential phase 2 would involve up to 2 contracts being awarded to organisations chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £150,000 inclusive of VAT for a project of up to 12 months will be allocated for each contract, to deliver clinical grade performance and demonstrate that the product could be integrated into the clinical pathway.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach, in order to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, themes, markets, regions, nations and technological maturities
  • contracts will be given to successful applicants based upon total consensus score and the portfolio approach

The contract is completed at the end of phase 1, including the end-of-phase report, and the successful organisation is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

  • do not work in conjunction with the identified test bed partner and identified academic research partner

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and suggest you seek independent advice from HMRC.

VAT registered

If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total. Your total project costs inclusive of VAT must not exceed £30,000.

Not VAT registered

If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered. Your total project costs must not exceed £30,000.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to subsidy control criteria that typically apply to grant funding.


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.