We have answered our most frequently asked questions, to help you decide if this is the right programme for your company and to support you during the application process.
Questions about the programme:
What support does the Accelerator offer?
Companies accepted onto the programme will have the opportunity to take part in workshops and training, meet the expert sessions, one-to-one clinics, and other events and learning opportunities hosted and delivered by the Accelerator and its clinical, topical, and business experts. Each company is also assigned an NHS Navigator, an experienced professional from the NHS with the expertise to understand their needs and share advice on products in development, NHS navigation and business models.
Support focuses on areas specific to individual companies’ needs, with a focus on engagement with different elements of the health and care system. It may include:
- Engagement with clinicians and healthcare experts
- Refining products to meet NHS need
- Deepening understanding of the health system
- Showcasing innovations in health facilities
- Developing business models to progress product development
- Market access and navigation
Will the Accelerator programme be affected by Brexit?
The programme’s funding is unaffected by Brexit. The focus of the programme is still to develop and support the adoption of digital health technology in London, regardless of the origin of the product.
How long is the programme?
The Accelerator is a year-long programme of support.
How much time will I need to dedicate to the programme per month?
There is no set amount of time required and engagement naturally shifts throughout the year as companies move through various stages of growth. However, to benefit fully from the programme, companies need to have the time, head space and resource to properly engage. On average, an engaged company representative will spend five to six hours per week participating in multiple aspects of the Accelerator.
Does the Accelerator provide funding or invest in companies?
The Accelerator can connect companies to relevant funding opportunities but does not provide or guarantee direct funding. We do not invest in companies or take any equity.
How is the Accelerator funded?
The Accelerator is a partnership between London’s three AHSNs (Health Innovation Network, Imperial College Health Partners, UCLPartners), MedCity, and CW+. It is supported by the Mayor of London; and is part-funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, the ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
Does the Accelerator provide funding?
The Accelerator can connect companies to relevant funding opportunities, but does not provide direct funding.
Does the Accelerator take equity or invest in companies?
How does participation affect compliance with state aid rules?
The benefits offered through DigitalHealth.London Accelerator classify as assistance under the European Commission’s De Minimis Regulation (Commission Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013 of 18 December 2013) on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid; Official Journal L 352/1 of 24.12.2013). This allows an undertaking to receive up to €200,000 worth of assistance over any three year fiscal period (i.e. fiscal years used by the undertaking in the UK). The amount of de minimis aid that your company will receive through the accelerator is estimated to be worth the equivalent of £35,000. You will receive a State Aid certificate at the end of your involvement with the accelerator programme, confirming how much de minimis aid you received. More information can be found here.
What is the difference between DigitalHealth.London Accelerator and other programmes like the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) and SBRI?
The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is distinct from SBRI and the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), in that it works with companies who will benefit from closer working with the NHS in a region, for example to trial products or build their real-world evidence base.
The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator focuses exclusively on companies with digitally enabled solutions and provides a network of London-based support, rather than a national programme like the NIA. DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator also focuses on companies, rather than a dual support model for individuals and their innovations. Additionally, the NIA seeks to support innovations with a comprehensive evidence base, whereas DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is happy to support companies that could benefit from additional real-world validation, particularly real-world validation in London.
The SBRI Healthcare programme provides funding to develop innovations that meet the challenges facing the healthcare system. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator works with companies who have already developed digitally enabled solutions.
What happens after the programme?
Following the completion of support, all programme participants join a growing number of companies as a DigitalHealth.London Accelerator alumnus. The team encourages alumni companies to keep in touch. Companies are always welcome to reach out if they have any questions and can make use of more formal bi-annual time with a navigator. With a dedicated alumni slack channel, events and opportunities can still be shared, and connections can be made with fellow alumni SMEs.
What is the application process?
The application process consists of two stages:
- Online Application: Our experts in the healthcare, commercial and technology sectors will review relevant applications according to business credibility, fit with NHS priorities and the extent to which we believe the programme will make a positive impact on your business. You will need to register on our online application platform and can save and return to your application at any point until the deadline. The application form is easy to complete and includes questions about your company and the digital health products you have in development.
- Panel Interviews: Applicants successful in the online application stage will be invited to interviews with a panel of experts from across the healthcare, commercial and technology sectors. Experts are matched where possible to interview companies that fall in their area of expertise or need.
What are the eligibility criteria for companies to be considered?
- Companies must demonstrate compliance with the EU definition of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) at the time of embarking on the programme http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition_en.If you are not sure whether you meet the criteria, we will be able to make a judgment based on your responses to questions in the application form.
- Companies need to be registered with Companies House, or the equivalent in country of trading. We can accept sole traders, providing you have a unique tax reference number. If you are a charity, please contact email@example.com to discuss before applying.
- Companies without a London address will be asked to demonstrate that they have the resources and commitment to spend a significant amount of time in London during the programme as all workshops and training events will be held in the capital.
- Companies need to be below the threshold of the European Commission’s De Minimis Regulation, which allows an undertaking to receive up to €200,000 worth of assistance over any three-year fiscal period. The amount of de minimis aid that a company will receive through the Accelerator is estimated to be worth £35,000.
My company is from overseas, can it apply?
Companies from both inside and outside of London are eligible to apply for the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator. However, companies should consider their ability to travel to London regularly, as all workshops and training events will be held in the capital. Companies without a registered address in London will be asked to demonstrate that they have the resources and commitment to spend a significant amount of time in London during the programme, demonstrated by staff based in London, contracts or other relationships.
I am only a one-person / very small business - can I still apply?
We consider applications from companies with between one and 250 employees. However, we strongly advise applicants to consider their capacity to:
- Attend training and workshops provided by the Accelerator (usually one per week)
- Take up new opportunities such as meetings with decision-makers and influencers, sometimes at short notice
- Respond and act on feedback and advice received
- Travel regularly to London
Alumni companies have told us that they got the most from the Accelerator when they had the time, head space and resource to fully engage and amend their approach as advised. In the past, companies with the capacity to fully engage have tended to have five employees or more.
Is my company too mature to apply?
Companies that are already working with the NHS or private healthcare can certainly still benefit from the programme. Through experience in supporting more mature companies on the Accelerator, it is crucial that a one or two individuals within the SME are assigned responsibility for engaging with the programme. This ensures they have both the bandwidth and support to get the most out of the programme. Additionally, while mature SMEs might have a few more established lines of growth, agreeing a specific area to focus on while on the programme with your assigned Navigator has proved effective. As an example, this could include focussing support on a newer product or on developing academic links to generate evidence.
At what stage of product development do companies have to be to apply?
Companies that have a product or solution that is well-defined and are ready to start building their evidence base are likely to benefit the most from the type of support offered through the programme, as it focuses on engagement with different elements of the health and care system. Company suitability is assessed based on both product maturity, with products ready to be trialled or bought, and capacity to benefit from the programme, including having enough time / staff to engage.
How do I know if I have received state aid funding in the past?
Any public body or publicly funded body giving assistance to a company should clearly communicate that the support fall under state aid rules from the outset. Following the end of support, the recipient should receive a certificate detailing what support was given and how much state aid the support equated to. If you are unsure, please contact the organisation who provided the support. The most common state aid support we see in applications for the programme are:
- Innovate UK, where a majority of their support through their research, development and innovation scheme falls within state aid rules.
- Knowledge Exchange and Embed Partnerships
Can I arrange a call / meeting to discuss my eligibility / application?
Our webinar and Twitter live events should provide all the information you need. Follow us on Twitter to find out when the next information event will be taking place.
Should you still have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries and someone from the team will be happy to help you. In the unlikely event we are unable to answer your question over email, we will happily set up a call with an appropriate team member.
What would you expect from an international company in terms of commitment to in-person availability in London?
There is no set amount of time required and engagement naturally shifts throughout the year as companies move through various stages of growth. However, to benefit fully from the programme, companies need to have the time, head space, and resource to properly engage. On average, an engaged company representative will spend five to six hours per week participating in multiple aspects of the Accelerator. This comes in the form of face-to-face events and meetings, both with the navigator / Accelerator team and industry experts / commissioners, as well as virtual meetings and check-ins.
For non-UK or non-London based companies, will my travel or visa application fee be subsidised?
There is no reimbursement for expenses related to the programme.
Should the pitch video and written pitch be the same?
The written pitch does not need to be a transcript of the video pitch.
Can I change my answers once I have submitted my application?
Once you have submitted your application, you are unable to edit your answers. We recommend applicants make use of the wide application window to allow them to finetune all answers before submitting.
What criteria is used to choose companies to take part?
Passing the rigorous selection process is a testament to the hard work and potential of each company. At both application review and interview stage, at least four professionals with expertise in healthcare, business, technology and evidence generation score applicants on their suitability for participation in three areas:
- Credibility of business model – ensuring companies are financially viable, have a working product and have the potential to succeed and thrive.
- NHS need and potential to help provide appropriate solutions – ensuring companies are meeting a real demand.
- Potential to benefit from the programme (with additional questions for non-London based companies) – ensuring companies have the capacity to benefit from the programme and have reasonable expectations of the programme.
When is the start date of the 2020-2021 cohort?
Support of Cohort 5 will start in November 2020.
When should I expect to hear back about my application and when are the interviews?
Applicants will be contacted on 31 August 2020 regarding the outcome of the application review. Interviews will take place between 14 – 30 September 2020. The interview outcome will be announced on 16 October 2020.
Will I get feedback on my company’s application?
Due to the large number of applications we receive we do not offer feedback if applicants are not successful at the application review stage. All unsuccessful interviewees are offered a feedback call with a panel member.