Kick-start for more healthcare innovation projects, thanks to charity funding

06 December 2021

Kick-start for more healthcare innovation projects, thanks to charity funding
Some of the brightest medical minds in the NHS will have the chance to drive forward a series of innovation projects this year, thanks to a £700,000 funding boost from Imperial Health Charity.

We’ve awarded grants of up to £85,000 to support 11 pioneering projects as part of our Innovate at Imperial funding programme.

The projects we’re funding include:

·         using virtual simulation to speed up care for stroke patients

·         applying artificial intelligence to enhance radiotherapy treatments

·         testing innovative capture technology to reduce carbon emissions in surgery

·         recycling single-use PPE waste to make othe rmedical products with a longer lifespan.

"Innovate at Imperial is a fantastic platform for our staff to challenge traditional ways of working and pursue better patient care"

Dr Bob Klaber, Director of Strategy, Research and Innovation


Bob Klaber, Director of Strategy, Research and Innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Innovate at Imperial is a fantastic platform for our staff to challenge traditional ways of working and pursue their vision for better patient care. With Imperial Health Charity’s invaluable support, hospital teams can take the time to develop, test and evaluate their project.”

Since launching the programme in 2019, we’ve awarded more than £2m to help staff think differently about overcoming a range of challenging healthcare problems.

Dozens of projects are now up and running at Imperial College Healthcare, with teams of staff working to find innovative solutions to improve patient care, staff wellbeing and hospital processes.

This latest series of awards is part of the programme’s third funding round, with £737,000 awarded in total. However, several other exciting projects are already under way.

NHS staff using hospital equipment

The Boreas shield: an innovative new device to protect surgeons from Covid-19


Throughout the pandemic, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeons have been particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 when carrying out tracheostomy procedures, which involve inserting a tube into a patient’s windpipe to aid with breathing.

Cutting into the front of the neck to make space for the tube can allow virus particles to escape the patient’s airway and spread around the operating theatre, putting staff at risk and slowing down treatment because of the need for regular deep cleaning.

With funding from the Innovate at Imperial programme, a team of clinicians is teaming up with expert engineers at Mercedes F1 to tackle this urgent problem.

Their idea is to place a transparent shield between surgeon and patient during the procedure, capturing and destroying virus particles before they spread.

"Without the charity's support, we would never have been able to test the design concept"

Catherine Rennie, ENT Surgeon and Project Lead

“If we can reduce the amount of virus that is spread around the hospital, we’ll be able to minimise the numbers of infections and limit the risk to staff,” said ENT Surgeon Catherine Rennie.

Once the shield has been tested and modified, the Mercedes engineers will build a finalised version of the device. The team hope it can then be mass-produced and made available to hospitals across the UK.

Catherine believes the project would not have been possible without funding from Imperial Health Charity.

“It’s really difficult to find funding to get start-up projects off the ground,” she said. “So we’re phenomenally lucky to have this grant from the charity.”

If you’re a member of staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, you may be eligible to apply for funding to support your work. Click here to find out more.

Image caption: Professor David Howard, honorary professor at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is working with the team at Charing Cross to develop and test the Boreas shield device.