UK government announce £36M AI research boost for NHS

A share of £36 million to test ‘state-of-the-art’ AI technology has been invested in projects that aim to help the NHS transform the quality of care the speed of diagnoses for conditions such as lung cancer.

At the CogX Festival last week, UK Health Social Care secretary Matt Hancock announced the winners of the second wave of the NHS AI Lab’s AI in Health Care Award. The 38 projects backed by NHSX Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) include:

  • An AI-guided tool to help doctors nurses to diagnose heart attacks more accurately
  • An algorithm to fast-track the detection of lung cancer
  • An AI-powered mental health app to help tackle symptoms of anxiety depression while also identifying people experiencing severe mental health difficulties
  • Tech to help spot undiagnosed spinal fractures


In September, £50 million was given to 42 AI technologies. Since then, over 17,000 stroke patients over 25,000 patients with diabetes have benefitted from the first round of the AI in Health Care Award.

The AI in Health Care Award aims to accelerate the testing evaluation of AI in the NHS so patients can benefit from faster more personalised diagnosis greater efficiency in screening services.

The projects are part of the NHS AI Lab’s £140 million AI in Health Care Award, which funds programmes to support the UK in becoming a robust setting for the development deployment of AI technologies.

The funding will be distributed over three years, with the next round of applications set to open in late June. 

“The 38 projects we are backing reflect the UK’s trailblazing approach to innovation in the healthcare sector.”

– Matt Hancock, Health Social Care secretary


In recent news, NHS Tests Trace is working with British cybersecurity company Risk Ledger to manage cybersecurity risks in their supply chain.

Meanwhile, Barking, Havering Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust is launching new software which uses AI to improve response to stroke care.


Health Social Care secretary, Matt Hancock said: “AI has the potential to completely revolutionise every part of how we approach healthcare, from how we diagnose diseases the speed at which our doctors nurses deliver treatments to how we support people’s mental health.

“The 38 projects we are backing reflect the UK’s trailblazing approach to innovation in the healthcare sector, could help us take a leap forward in the quality of care the speed of disease diagnoses treatment in the NHS.

“Confronted with this global pandemic, our tech sector has risen to the challenge upended how we do things through innovations to support people to test from home, complete remote consultations diagnose issues safely.”

Flann Horgan, VP healthcare at NTT DATA UK, told Healthcare IT News: “This funding announcement represents a key vote of confidence from the government in UK technology. The list of projects new technologies is testament to the richness of AI research in 2020, a field which has helped the UK establish itself as a global centre for cutting-edge innovation. 

“Many of these AI tools will help to support expert clinicians with their jobs, facilitate predictive care, improve accuracy of diagnoses, create the next generation of radiology tools advance the use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment – to name a few use cases.”



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