Fourteen businesses receive innovative funding to improve kidney care

New ideas and technologies that could prevent kidney disease, allow earlier diagnosis and give patients greater independence are to be developed thanks to an innovative funding competition developed.

Fourteen businesses from across the UK have been awarded around £100,000 each as part of a £3.6million competition funded by the Department of Health through the Small Business Research Initiative and managed by the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative.

A man receiving kidney dialysis treatment (please note this photo is not taken at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

The competition aims to improve the lives of the 5,000 people diagnosed with kidney failure every year. There are currently 41,000 patients receiving treatment for kidney failure in England alone, with around 2% of the NHS’ annual budget being spent on treating those with the severest forms of kidney disease.

National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative is hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Wendy Tindale, scientific director for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and clinical director for the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative, said: “We are delighted to be announcing the winners of this kidney care competition. Developing new treatments and technologies to help people manage their kidney disease and benefit from interventions is vital if we are to improve care and prevent the severest forms of kidney disease, which are often irreversible. Patients’ views have also been instrumental in the development of this competition, and together with clinicians, academics and industry they have given a vital perspective into how the illness affects people’s lives.”

Lord Howe, Health Minister, said: “Innovation is essential for improving treatments and finding new cures, so I am delighted that the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative is awarding these funds to help develop technologies that can make a difference to patients suffering with kidney disease. This will also build on Britain’s reputation as a world leader in science, research and development. I look forward to learning more about the progress and success of this initiative now that these winners have been announced.”

David Coyle, a patient who has suffered with kidney disease for over 25 years and who was a judge on the competition, said: “I was delighted to be asked to use my kidney patient knowledge and experience as a judge on the Devices for Dignity selection panel to identify innovative ideas to use technology to benefit patients.

“The competition has produced some truly excellent technology initiatives which, I believe, will greatly transform patient welfare and facilitate greater independence. Devices for Dignity has found a winning formula to leverage technology for the benefit of patients at every stage of renal disease.”

Three of the 14 winners will develop new treatments aimed at preventing acute kidney injury, an abrupt loss of kidney function that develops within seven days.

Another of the projects will see the development of a test for kidney disease in patients with diabetes, the most common cause of kidney failure.

The remaining 10 successful projects aim to improve patient independence and quality of life of people with kidney disease, including for patients needing kidney dialysis and transplantation.

The winners of the competition are:

  • University of Cambridge and SensorHut Ltd - development of an innovative sensor that can detect early acute kidney injury by sensing volatile molecules in the urine, at the bedside
  • Helier Scientific Ltd - development of a sensitive test for urinary K-Cadherin, a marker of kidney disease progression in patients with diabetes
  • Jasmine Media Productions LLP - a virtual 4D technology to increase patient confidence towards vascular access cannulation and promote self-care and home haemodialysis treatment options
  • Patientrack Limited and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust – automated information technology system to calculate risk and alert clinical teams
  • DocCom Careflow (tm) -  ensuring faster treatment of acute kidney injury using secure messaging to deliver alerts to clinicians in real time and then enabling instant, mobile cross team referrals and conversation
  • UK Renal Data Collaboration - delivering patient results in real time and modules to allow patients to flag up mistakes and changes in their medical records 
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust - a telemedicine platform to reduce patient hospital attendance
  • IF Sensing Ltd - a device for monitoring renal function at home using interstitial fluid allowing out of hospital monitoring of kidney function
  • Atlantis Healthcare - an online support programme using coping exercises to improve self-management in order to delay disease progression and aid shared decision-making around dialysis in order to reduce distress and decisional conflict 
  • Randox Laboratories Ltd - a test for Aminoacylase-1, a biosensor for early transplant function
  • University of Leeds - an immunoabsorption system for patients due to have blood group incompatible transplants and can be used simultaneously with haemodialysis, reducing treatment time and time spent in hospital.
  • Microsensor Limited - infection sensors that can be incorporated into existing peritoneal dialysis products
  • Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd – modelling the "dialysis day" with the aim of minimising delays in haemodialysis patient treatment 
  • 365 Response Ltd - a booking app for transport, one key factor for delays in haemodialysis treatment


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