Business 15.12.21

Sheffield Hallam University secures substantial investment for latest health business accelerator

The application window for Sheffield Hallam University’s latest Wellbeing Accelerator has opened for start-up businesses seeking fully-funded R&D support to bring new health products and services to market.

Participants receive up to £20,000 of support to accelerate product development and market access activities.

The Wellbeing Accelerator, led by Sheffield Hallam’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is a research and development-focused programme that supports pre-revenue and early-stage businesses, as well as SMEs, to develop products and services with health and wellbeing applications that align with the AWRC’s ambitions.

The programme, which has been sponsored by InterMedi Group with significant investment, is open to businesses via a competitive application process and provides the accepted cohort with a wide range of support and mentorship to bring their innovations closer to market.

It follows a successful inaugural Wellbeing Accelerator programme in 2020 which saw 28 businesses supported, including Sheffield-based sleep-tech start-up SleepCogni which recently raised £1.4m to commercialise into the US market.

Many of those on the programme have gone on to develop strategic partnerships and access new customers, create jobs and further research opportunities with the University and NHS trusts, as well as secure new public or private investment.

Richard Mills, CEO of SleepCogni, said: “It’s great to see the accelerator programme back for a second year, and with more investment backing. We found the first intake a great help and supported SleepCogni in achieving a huge regulatory milestone with our FDA registration. I am looking forward to seeing which exciting companies make it on to the next programme.”

Participants in the programme have access to world-class research and development capabilities to carry out design and rapid prototyping through to precision engineering of prototype components.

The centre also houses laboratories for proof-of-concept testing and a clinical research floor to test innovations with end-users for usability assessments, and initial pilot studies to support development of the evidence base.

The AWRC leverages its ecosystem of supportive individuals and organisations to help start-up founders grow their networks; forge new collaborations and secure public and private investment.

Following the programme, the AWRC’s research and development (R&D) for business team, who deliver the programme, works with the cohort to develop collaborative grant funding applications so that the University can continue its support for the companies.

The programme does not take equity or use state aid allowances and is fully-funded via Sheffield Hallam University contributions and private sector sponsorship.

Businesses can apply to join the Wellbeing Accelerator via the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre website, and the window for applications is open until Monday 14 February 2022. Applications will be reviewed and decisions made by mid-March 2022, for virtual onboarding from late-March 2022. All programme activities will take place between April 2022 and July 2022.

Jason Brannan, Deputy Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre has a vision to transform lives through innovations that help people move and our Wellbeing Accelerator is an important part of how we do this, alongside our wider programmes for more established larger businesses. We are delighted with the support from InterMedi Group to provide on the ground R&D to help companies develop their technologies and services for health and wellbeing.”

Terry Senior, R&D manager at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “I am excited to work with the team again to build on the success of the last programme where we engaged 40 of our research staff, from a range of disciplines across the university, to deliver applied research solutions for companies developing innovative products and services.”

Bernard McMahon, director and VP business development at InterMedi Group, said: “At InterMedi Group we believe in investing in the development of revolutionary technologies to achieve better patient outcomes, so our mission is very much aligned with that off the AWRC. It’s because of that alignment that we are delighted to be supporting the AWRC’s Wellbeing Accelerator, providing a platform to get new technologies nearer to market and ‘transforming lives through innovations that help people move”

The AWRC is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity – whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.