MSD and Wayra partner to find best healthcare tech start-ups in the UK

x-raysGlobal healthcare leader, MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd) and Wayra, Telefonica’s tech start up accelerator, have announced their partnership to launch the first preventative healthcare start-up programme in the UK.

The acceleration programme, called Velocity Health, will kick off with a search for the UK’s best tech start-ups who can win the chance to have their innovations developed and their ideas brought to market to deliver early health detection of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity and diabetes.

With the NHS funding gap set to reach £30billion by 2020 (source: NHS England Five Year Forward View Oct 2014) and with only 4% of NHS budget invested in preventative healthcare (source: NHS England Five Year Forward View Oct 2014), digital innovation is being seen as an essential investment to combat the challenges outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward Plan.

In 2014, $4.1bn was invested in the US in digital health companies (source: FT May 2015) focused on consumer engagement, data and analytics, personalised medicine and wearable devices. The large market segment currently dominated by personal fitness and exercise tech is expected to be disrupted over the next decade by virtual reality, artificial intelligence, deep learning, big data analytics and sensor innovation.

The UK government’s commitment to a digital health agenda will drive accelerator programmes like Velocity Health as the industry searches for best tech innovation to help identify and prevent the rise of major diseases amongst an ageing population in the UK.

From intelligent glasses for the visually impaired, to phone apps identifying possible melanoma, Velocity Health will launch its 2015 programme with a search for best tech start-ups in preventative healthcare. They will be hoping to add to the 100 UK tech start-ups already being supported by Wayra in 2015.

MSD will continue to build on over one hundred years’ legacy of healthcare innovation to partner for the first time with Wayra, a start-up accelerator owned by Telefónica Open Future. Wayra first launched in Latin America and Spain and now with 12 innovation hubs in 12 countries the Open Future programme has invested over 300m Euros in 500 businesses and signed 60 partnerships across 17 countries.