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 and the speed of diagnoses for conditions such as lung cancer.

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

  • An AI-guided tool to help doctors and 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 and 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 and over 25,000 patients with diabetes have benefitted from the first round of the AI in Health and Care Award.

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

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


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

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


Health and 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 and the speed at which our doctors and 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, and could help us take a leap forward in the quality of care and the speed of disease diagnoses and treatment in the NHS.

“Confronted with this global pandemic, our tech sector has risen to the challenge and upended how we do things through innovations to support people to test from home, complete remote consultations and 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 and 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, and facilitate predictive care, improve accuracy of diagnoses, create the next generation of radiology tools and advance the use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment – to name a few use cases.”



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