Three UK-based SMEs have become the first companies to receive funding via a new medtech grants scheme.

The MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grant scheme – which is managed by NHS innovation hub HEE (Health Enterprise East) – will provide the firms with a total of up to £45,000 ($59,000).

The three companies, DiagNodus, TumourVue and Javelin Health, are working on “groundbreaking” projects relating to Covid-19 diagnostics, medical imaging for cancer surgery and peripheral intravenous lines respectively.

Funding for these efforts is being supported by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with additional innovation grants expected to be announced soon from a total allocation of £300,000 ($395,000).

This money will be used to support innovative SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) through early proof-of-concept and development phases by providing access to expert advice – as well as opening up the potential for further long-term collaborations.

Dr Anne Blackwood, chief executive of HEE, said: “We know that when innovators in the NHS and the medtech industry work together, incredible new technologies can be developed and brought to market quickly.

“The MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grants are designed to give SMEs the leg-up they need to foster essential relationships with clinical experts in order to hone their product development, and ultimately deliver better patient outcomes.

“This first crop of winners is indicative of the calibre and ambition of projects that the scheme aims to support, with a focus on medtech solutions that tackle the most pressing health priorities of the moment.

“We look forward to supporting more SMEs in their development of groundbreaking innovations in the near future.”


UK firms receiving medtech innovation grants


The grant awarded to Cambridge-based biotech firm DiagNodus will help fund an urgently-designed project aiming to determine immunity to Covid-19.

This will be achieved by assessing the presence of antiviral antibodies in non-invasively collected mucus samples from patients recovering from the virus.

The diagnostic validity of this approach is already proven for other health conditions including colorectal cancer and bowel inflammation detection.

The company will now be collaborating with experts at the Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of London’s St George’s medical school to enhance its patient-friendly sampling technique and biomarker analysis.

This is being done in anticipation of innovative colorectal mucus analysis providing a reliable way of determining antiviral immunity, which will help in both estimating individual risk of infection and assessing immunisation efficiency once a coronavirus vaccine is ready.



Another portion of the HEE funding has been awarded to TumourVue to support the development and clinical validation of a new medical imaging device for cancer surgery.

The technology combines an imaging technology and AI-based algorithms to produce more precise visualisation of tumour margins, delivering images in real-time during surgeries.

Moreover, unlike conventional imaging tools, this new technology is designed to be easy to integrate, and can be worn on a surgeon’s safety or prescription glasses.

Cambridge-based TumourVue is currently collaborating with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on a proof-of-principle trial using a handheld, first iteration of the device.


Javelin Health

The final recipient of this innovation grant is Javelin Health – a medtech start-up based in Scotland.

The award will fund a health and economic impact assessment of their flagship product – a device to secure peripheral intravascular cannulas, which are used to send fluids or medicines straight into a patient’s bloodstream, and are among the most commonly-used medical tools in the world.

The non-invasive device – currently in prototype development – aims to reduce cannula failure rates and improve the quality care for the millions of patients that undergo this routine procedure each year.

The award will see Javelin Health collaborate with King’s Technology Evaluation Centre (KiTEC) – a health technology assessment organisation based out of King’s College London – to test the device.