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Oxford AHSN helps companies leverage more than £5 million to improve patient outcomes through AI technology

Thousands of patients and NHS staff will benefit from dozens of new innovative projects awarded a share of £36 million to test artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The AI Award is making £140 million available over four years to accelerate the most promising AI technologies for health and social care from initial concepts to real-world tests and independent evaluation in the NHS to ensure they are effective, accurate, safe and offer value for money. It is one of the programmes of the NHS AI Lab at NHSX and is run by the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The winners of the first two rounds of the competition have been announced. Round 3 opened for applications on 29 June.

The Oxford AHSN is supporting five companies which have won funding totalling more than £5 million across the first two rounds. Their AI innovations relate to cardiovascular disease, stroke, asthma and eye surgery.

Julie Hart, Director of Strategic and Industry Partnerships at the Oxford AHSN, said: “We are helping these companies test and evaluate their innovative AI products to establish if they will bring benefits to patients and savings to the NHS.”

Caristo Diagnostics Ltd was successful in both rounds to date of the AI Award. In Round 1 they received phase 2 funding for an AI initiative to improve cardiometabolic risk evaluation using CT (ACRE-CT). In Round 2 they won phase 3 support to use AI to detect the invisible signatures of heart inflammation shown in regular CT scans to better predict the risk of cardiovascular disease, allowing medication and treatment to be targeted more efficiently (CaRi-Heart).

Ultromics Ltd received two awards in Round 1 (Phase 3 and Phase 4) for EchoGo Pro which automates coronary artery disease risk prediction. It uses AI to analyse stress echocardiograms (ECGs) to help more accurately diagnose heart problems such as blood vessel blockages. The device’s clinical and cost effectiveness will be tested in 12 NHS hospitals.

Other AI Award successes supported by the Oxford AHSN include:

Phase 4

Harnessing AI to interpret acute brain scans Brainomix Ltd

The e-Stroke Suite is a set of tools that uses AI methods to interpret acute stroke brain scans, helping doctors make the right choices about treatment and the need for specialist transfer of patients. It also provides a platform for doctors to share information between hospitals in real-time and avoid any potential delays.

Phase 2

Predicting and preventing asthma attacks in children BreatheOx Limited (Albus Health)

A table-top device that automatically monitors respiratory symptoms and environmental metrics without patients having to touch or wear anything, is being tested by a group including Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Imperial College London and Asthma UK. Early recognition and effective management of asthma can prevent emergencies.

Autonomous telemedicine – cataract surgery follow-up Ufonia Limited

Automated telephone call to patients following cataract surgery being tested at two large NHS hospitals. This study will compare clinical decisions with those made by clinicians in routine follow-up calls.

How to apply

The AI Award is open to any AI technology. The Round 3 competition opens on 28 June and closes in early September 2021. More information here


Phase 4: Phase 4 is intended to identify medium stage AI technologies that have market authorisation but insufficient evidence to merit large-scale commissioning or deployment. Award amounts are uncapped, awards are per technology. The AAC Delivery Team will work with NHS sites to support their adoption of these technologies, to stress test and evaluate the AI technology within routine clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy, and clinical and economic impact.

Phase 3: Phase 3 is intended to support first real world testing in health and social care settings to develop evidence of efficacy and preliminary proof of effectiveness, including evidence for routes to implementation to enable more rapid adoption. Awards are uncapped, funding awards are per product, typically for 12 to 24 months. If the Phase 3 project is successful, companies can bid for Phase 4, subject to budget availability.

Phase 2: Phase 2 is intended to develop and evaluate prototypes of demonstration units and generate early clinical safety or efficacy data. Award amounts are uncapped, funding awards are per product, typically for 12 to 36 months. If the Phase 2 project is successful, companies can bid for Phase 3, subject to budget availability.