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SBRI Healthcare – Competition 20 – Autism and Learning Disabilities

Fund Name

SBRI Healthcare – Competition 20 – Autism and Learning Disabilities

Project Length

Up to 6 months

Project Value




Autism and learning disabilities communities are making great strides towards delivering the NHS LTP ambition via a number of national programmes. However, there is recognition that this effort needs to go further faster. Therefore, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) are looking for innovations or new approaches that will support these ambitions.

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Fund Details

This competition seeks to address three primary issues, taking into account the systemic complexity and recognising some of the key influences on care delivery. The requirement is to find innovative solutions that will tackle challenges associated with:

  • Early identification and diagnosis
  • Health inequalities and access to care
  • Access to effective support and services

This competition is open to all types of innovations, including but not limited to, medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, digital health solutions, software, artificial intelligence, services or new models of care.

Those submitting applications are also asked to consider:

  • How will the proposed solution impact the care system and how will the system need to be changed (including people, processes and culture) in order to deliver system-wide benefits?
  • How will you ensure that the innovation will be acceptable to patients (and their families and wider support network) and to health and social care workers? How could these groups be involved in the design of a solution and its development?
  • How will you ensure that the innovation is affordable to the NHS and wider system such as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) both immediately and throughout the life of the product?
  • What evidence, both health economics and delivery of true impact will the NHS and wider system require before the technology can be adopted?
  • How will you ensure that the innovation enhances equity of access (e.g. takes account of underserved ethnic or economic groups) and helps the NHS towards its target to reach net zero carbon?
  • For digital innovations, the NICE Digital Health Technology Framework should be consulted and your application should evidence your plan to meet the appropriate evidence guidelines. In addition, please consult the NHSX guidelines for “Designing and building products and services” for the latest links to relevant standards, guidelines and consultations. In addition, universal design principles for accessibility and inclusion should be considered and the following guidelines consulted: European Commission Digital Inclusion Strategy 2022,
  • European Union Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, National Autism Strategy.
  • Innovators should also demonstrate they are aware of the competitive environment, even considering working together with other companies to bring forward solutions that can make a real difference.
  • Applicants should take into account the baseline they need to innovate from, having taken into consideration the forced changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Given the rural nature of many places with need, barriers associated with digital interventions requiring wifi connectivity should be comprehensively considered (wifi and phone signals in rural locations may be weak or unreliable).
  • Furthermore, consideration should be taken towards the scalability of the technology and the necessary adaptations for different service user groups.

The competition is open to single companies or organisations from the private, public and third sectors, including charities. The competition runs in two phases (subject to availability of budget in 2022/23):

  • Phase 1 is intended to show the technical feasibility of the proposed concept. The development contracts placed will be for a maximum of 6 months and up to £100,000 (NET costs, excl. VAT) per project.
  • Phase 2 contracts are intended to develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstration units from the more promising technologies in Phase 1. Only those projects that have completed Phase 1 successfully will be eligible for Phase 2. The number of available Phase 2 awards is subject to budget availability.


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 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.

Collaborations are encouraged in the form of subcontracted services as appropriate.

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