Initiatives will develop new technology to improve benefits of medicines – Hamilton

Date published: 12 January 2016

Two of Northern Ireland’s small businesses have been awarded £0.8m funding to proceed to Phase 2 of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) for Medicines Optimisation.

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Health Minister Simon Hamilton and Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell made the announcement today and congratulated companies, Appattic and Smartair Medical on their success. The SBRI initiative aims to develop new technology solutions to optimise the health benefits of medicines by supporting people to take the right medicines at the right time and as prescribed.

Phase 1 of the competition started in January 2015 and six projects were selected to test the technical feasibility and proof of concept of their solutions. Phase 2 seeks to further develop these solutions towards commercialisation and test and evaluate their impact on medicines adherence in patients in Northern Ireland.

Minister Hamilton commented: “Medicines are the most common medical intervention within the Health and Social Care Service (HSC) costing over £550million per year. As the population ages, demand for medicines is expected to rise and attention is needed to ensure that patients gain the best possible outcomes from their treatment.

“Evidence shows that between a half and a third of medicines prescribed for long term conditions are not taken as recommended. Non-adherence can have serious consequences for the individual, resulting in poorer than expected clinical outcomes, reduced quality of life, deterioration of health and unplanned admission to hospital as well as wastage. Tackling non-adherence is one of the themes of my Department’s Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework and these initiatives will enable the HSC Service to continue to connect with the technology industry to develop creative and innovative solutions that meet patients’ needs.

“We attracted some strong proposals through the Phase 1 competition and it was difficult to select which companies would go on to Phase 2. The successful companies are working on some exciting products tackling the really important area of medicines adherence and have the potential to greatly enhance the way we use technology.”

The competition has been developed by the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety in partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Innovate UK with support from the Health and Social Care Board and Invest NI.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell commented: “The Executive’s Innovation Strategy recognises the importance of innovation as the key driver of productivity. It drives growth and investments in innovation are estimated to account for almost two thirds of productivity growth in the UK. Companies who innovate are more productive, employ more staff and are more likely to export.

“Through SBRI all public sector bodies have an opportunity to use their spending power to drive economic growth and improve public sector productivity. SBRI uses the buying power of the public sector to facilitate innovation within the economy and by using specifications to allow companies of all sizes, including start ups, to compete and win contracts to develop new solutions for the public sector.

“This Medicines Optimisation project clearly demonstrates that by using SBRI the public sector can use innovation to help improve outcomes and efficiency. I particularly welcome this project, the first Northern Ireland healthcare SBRI, as a concrete example of the productive collaboration between health and enterprise which can improve the health and wealth of our region.”

Stephen Browning, Head of SBRI, Innovate UK said: “It is really good to see the continued support that Northern Ireland are giving to innovation through SBRI. These competitions benefit both the public sector through access to new innovative solutions and suppliers and industry by providing a lead customer with whom they can develop their ideas.”


Notes to editors: 

1. The successful companies are developing the following products:

AppAttic Ltd : ‘Eirmed’ Gamification of Medication Management – will focus on preparing for market and testing the impact of the solution on adherence through a clinical trial undertaken in collaboration with Research and Development lead at South Eastern Trust.

SmartAIR Medical Ltd: Enhancing Compliance of Inhaled Medication – will focus on preparing for market and testing the impact the impact of the solution on adherence through a clinical trial undertaken in collaboration with C-TRIC and Research and Development lead at Western Trust.

2. The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. More information can be found online at

3. By using SBRI the public sector is able to access ideas and technologies that they would not be able to reach through normal channels. SBRI enables the public sector to procure and steer the R&D necessary to deliver significant improvements in operational performance or in progress towards policy objectives.

4. The co-sponsors of the Competition are the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Innovate UK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. More information can be found online at:

5. The public consultation for the Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework closed on 14 August 2015 and the final document is being prepared for publication. The Framework supports an approach in which patients are more involved in decisions about their medicines and are supported by multidisciplinary professionals, working collaboratively to deliver best practices which aim to achieve the best possible health outcomes from their treatment.

6. Media enquiries about this press release should be directed to the DHSSPS press office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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