Covid-19 presents an unprecedented global challenge. As a critical part of the healthcare community, the Life Science Industry can play an extremely important role in helping to support the healthcare system.

Here, we outline some of the key ways industry can help, as well as providing you with an up to date list of the latest requests for help within the NHS. Make sure you keep an eye out for the latest additions.   


Consortium formed for study of vaccines following approval

A new consortium has been formed for the study of Covid-19 vaccines after their approval, to monitor their safety and efficacy.

It has been established by the Drug Safety Research Unit in Southampton and the Medicines Monitoring Unit (MEMO Research) at the University of Dundee. Developers of vaccines are required to demonstrate quality, safety and efficacy for their products before members of the public start receiving them.

NICE and NIHR provide help and advice for Covid-19 product developers

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have launched a guide on clinical evidence generation for developers of medicinal products to prevent or treat Covid-19.

The first joint document of its kind produced by the two organisations, sets out best practice for conducting research whilst being mindful of the challenges associated with this during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides advice on what developers of medicinal products need to consider, including clinical trial design, the trial population, the length of the trial, trial outcomes and real-world evidence collection. 

NICE Scientific Advice has also been providing free fast-track advice for researchers who are developing novel diagnostics or therapeutics for COVID-19. If the developer has a study planned, the NICE Scientific Advice team has committed to reviewing the proposed study protocol within three weeks and will conduct a two-hour virtual meeting to discuss its report.

Funding announced by Welsh Government for digital Covid-19 solutions  
The Welsh government has announced a £150,000 competition for digital coronavirus solutions

Supported by Digital Health Ecosystem Wales, the funding is available for between five and eight projects to rapidly pilot solutions.

The competition is open to any UK business with a digital Covid-19 solution ready for testing.

All solutions must tackle one of four key areas including: remote diagnosis and triage of patients; optimising data collection and analysis; tracking, managing, and reporting hospital personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory; and remote citizen support and treatment.

Covid-19 start-up grant runway fund launched
The Oxford Foundry has launched a £120k fund for start-ups responding to Covid-19.

Grants of £10,000 will be given to four solutions deemed critical to aiding the crisis.

Funding available for research that aims to explore the impact of Covid-19
The Health Foundation has opened its Covid-19 Research Programme for UK-focused projects that explore how health and social care service delivery has changed in light of Covid-19.

The programme has two main areas of focus: service change in the health and social care system and research into health inequalities. 

Funding of between £100-£200k is available. Applications close in September 2020. 

Suppliers of remote monitoring technology required by NHSX
NHSX is looking for suppliers of remote monitoring technology as it tries to find large-scale solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic so that operations can continue while social distancing measures are in place.  

It says remote monitoring would reduce the amount of direct contact between healthcare professionals and patients and could therefore reduce the risk of the virus spreading. 

The tender notice will be continually open to new suppliers. The contract begins on 30 June.  

NHSX framework for communication solutions announced
NHSX has published a tender notice for NHS trusts to procure communication services in a bid to help phase out pagers. 

According to the notice, the Covid-19 pandemic has “accelerated the need to urgently deliver” Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021. Staff need to share clinical information quickly and securely whilst at work but they should be able to be turned off when not at work.

NHSX is looking for potential suppliers to provide feedback on the creation of a Clinical Communication Tools framework as well as preparing them for a future procurement, which is due to begin in June 2020.

The contract value is listed at £3m, with the intention for the framework to remain open for two years with a potential extension for 12 months.

Innovation grant launched for healthtech start-ups  
An innovation grant has been launched by Health Enterprise East to help smaller health tech companies.

The scheme aims to support innovation in the East of England over a three-year period by encouraging collaboration and knowledge transfer between industry and NHS experts in the region.

Funded by a £1m European Regional Development Fund grant, projects could include helping to develop, or test, new or improved products, processes and services; providing expertise and access to information on care pathways and workflows as well as tapping into clinical and scientific expertise.

Appeal for help increasing COVID testing capacity
The government wants help from businesses to increase Covid-19 testing capacity, so that it can meet its goal of delivering 100,000 tests a day. In particular the government says that it would like to hear from companies who can manufacture and supply:

NIHR and UKRI launch open call for research and innovation proposals to address Covid-19
National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have launched a rolling call for UK-led academic, small and medium enterprise and wider industry research that will address a wide range of Covid-19 knowledge gaps/needs, and which will lead to a benefit in UK, potentially international, public health within 12 months.

This call will have a number highlight notices against it to seek research proposals on specific topics. The current highlight notices are:

Guidance on getting your Covid-19 study funded or supported as nationally prioritised Urgent Public Health Research
Covid-19 Urgent Public Health Research is being prioritised to gather the necessary clinical and epidemiological evidence that will inform national policy and enable new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines to be developed and tested for Covid-19. 

The NIHR has published information on what government support is available to get your work prioritised.  

Travel and subsistence funding still available to support LMIC engagement during the Covid-19 outbreak
The NIHR is offering travel and subsistence funding to support public health professionals, clinicians and academics who wish to offer science and technical advice to support the immediate response to Covid-19 in low and middle-income countries. 

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