Health and wellbeing

We support new approaches to health and wellbeing including in healthy living, public health, early diagnosis of disease, advanced treatments and therapeutics, medicines’ manufacturing, connected services, and food and diet.

Background to health and wellbeing

Non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, account for 70 per cent of all deaths and more than three out of four years lived with a disability.

The number of people in the UK with dementia is estimated at 850,000, and one in four adults and one in ten children in the UK experience mental illness. Patients with multiple health conditions or multimorbidities represent an increasing challenge for healthcare systems, with around 70 per cent of healthcare costs now associated with multimorbidities’ management.

Advances in our understanding and stratification of disease, and in medical and health technologies, will improve the health of individuals in the UK and globally.

The growing, and in developed economies, ageing population will need to eat healthily, will want to maintain good health, and will require access to good medicines and health and care provision.

The UK life sciences sector is a global leader in medicines and medical technologies manufacturing and well placed to benefit from further advances. The industry employs 250,000 people in 63,000 businesses and generated £80 billion in 2019.

Find out more about our plans in Building the future economy: Plan for action for UK business innovation.

The sectors and technologies supporting healthy life

Our support for health and wellbeing includes sectors and technologies supporting healthy life in the UK and elsewhere, including:

  • prevention of ill health, including from infection or lifestyle-related disease
  • improved medical diagnostics including early diagnosis
  • provision and use of medicines and novel therapeutics
  • connected health and social care services
  • wider impact of diet, and the provision of healthy and nutritious food
  • innovations that improve healthy longevity, including in environments such as homes and communities.

Tackling ill health

We support new approaches to earlier diagnosis of disease including genome-based technologies, advanced diagnostics, artificial intelligence and advanced imaging techniques.

We support advances in cell and gene therapies that could cure previously incurable diseases and precision medicine techniques that offer new ways of treating disease based on individual patient characteristics. Other technologies, such as the use of robotics, 3D printing and digital therapeutics will drive further change.

The recent pandemic has identified how critical it is not only to discover new medicines, but also to manufacture them. We support innovation to
transform medicines’ manufacturing processes, equipment and systems to provide safe effective medicines to patients in the quantities needed, when they are needed, and at costs that make them accessible globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic put stress on healthcare systems across the world. We can learn from new approaches developed during the pandemic, and we support their application to preparing for future pandemics and infectious disease threats including antimicrobial resistance and to other areas such as complex medicines and medtech development and manufacturing.

Wellbeing

We support innovations that promote activity and good diet to tackle obesity and that reduce obesogenic environments in construction, transport and leisure services. Public health innovations are needed to address growing health inequalities, ensuring that solutions are accessible, affordable and attractive to a diverse range of users and public providers globally.

We also support innovation in preventive measures for disease, early detection, new treatments, and reduction of health inequalities to ensure that increased life expectancy does not mean more years of disability and social isolation. Other areas include digital and wearable technologies that empower patients to better manage their own health, improve self-assessment, alter their own behaviour, and use remote monitoring solutions.

Diet and food

We support new approaches to the secure supply of safe, nutritious, and affordable food that promotes good health. Changing consumer trends, ageing society, and concerns over diet-related disease will all drive changes to our eating habits and affect demand.

We support businesses through a range of funding programmes and expert support services.

Search for Innovate UK funding opportunities.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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