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Better education for Type 1 diabetes

Published: 5 Jun 2016 00:01

New technology to help management of condition

Five companies have been shortlisted as part of a £500,000 competition to develop an innovative way to help people with Type 1 diabetes.

The firms have been asked to develop ways of using mobile technology to improve management of the condition, which affects around 30,000 people across Scotland.

People with Type 1 diabetes need to manage their health in a number of areas, including insulin control, carbohydrate counting and foot care. Following diagnosis they are offered courses through the NHS to learn how to manage their condition, but some people find them difficult to attend and may forget some of the information they're given.

To supplement these existing education programmes, competition entrants have been asked to develop a mobile health product, which could be an app, a new interface or a new device.

The competition is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. It is being run in conjunction with Innovate UK as part of their Small Business Research Initiative – the first health SBRI to run in Scotland.

The shortlisted companies are:
• AxSys Technology Ltd, Paisley
• LeLan Solutions / SocialDiabetes, Bristol
• Mapmyhealth, Nottingham
• Spirit Healthcare, Leicestershire
• UHI Research and Enterprise Limited, Inverness

Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell, said:

"If the condition is properly controlled, people with Type 1 diabetes can lead healthy and active lives. However, when poorly managed it can result in serious complications, which is why it's important everyone understands the best way to manage their Type 1 diabetes.

"The existing education programmes work well for some people, but we felt there was a role for a more innovative way of showing people how to deal with their condition. I wish the shortlisted firms all the best as they develop their prototypes, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with."

Jim Watson, Director of Innovation and Enterprise Services at Scottish Enterprise, said:

"This SBRI competition is exactly what we need to help us increase Scotland's level of business innovation. We can deliver increased levels of business innovation within Scottish companies and establish a culture of 'open innovation' in the public sector, driving increased demand for innovative solutions to challenges.

"In this instance, the challenge is how to provide Type 1 diabetes patients with improved mobile support, while the businesses benefit from public sector assistance to develop innovative products with a ready-made potential market. We're keen to see more of this 'open innovation' happen right across the public sector and we're already planning to run more of these competitions in the near future."

Jane-Claire Judson, National Director of Diabetes Scotland, said:

"Living with Type 1 diabetes is a constant balancing act to ensure the condition is managed well and you stay healthy. Trying to manage Type 1 diabetes without appropriate education and support to understand it is like getting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car without ever having had a driving lesson. It is a complex condition with many challenges – and you never get a day off.

"While there are good diabetes education courses and opportunities available across Scotland, they are not available or accessible for everyone. It's important that we continue to invest in new ways of reaching out to every person who is living with Type 1 diabetes, such as utilising mobile technology, to ensure they have the support and information they need to live well. We're very excited to hear the innovative ideas of the five companies."

Background:

The shortlisted companies have six months to develop a detailed feasibility study, after which they will be reduced to a shortlist of two who will develop a prototype over the following year. Applicants will need to demonstrate that their idea can deliver real results and value for money for the health service. The prototypes will be tested out in NHS boards to determine how effective they are and whether they can bring benefits to patients.

For more information on Innovate UK visit: www.gov.uk/innovateuk

For more information on the Small Business Research Initiative visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436237/CO-011_SBRI_JUN15_Brochure_WEB_FINAL.pdf