CCR introduces inaugural £400k Innovation Challenge Fund for simulation technology health care training

Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) has announced its first Innovation Challenge Fund, open to any business able to demonstrate rapid simulation technology solutions for healthcare training.

The £400k contract funding is available to competitive bids from any enterprise capable of delivering innovative, impactful tracheostomy training for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board: transforming the current training into a highly-engaging learning experience that overcomes the restrictions caused by social distancing, lack of training facilities and the need for self-isolation.

The Innovation Challenge is backed by CCR’s Challenge Fund working in partnership with Welsh Government and the SBRI Centre of Excellence – providing a transparent and fair ‘pitch’ process that’s open to businesses of all sizes to prototype, test and commercialise game-changing solutions within NHS Wales.

Gareth Browning, CCR Challenge Fund Manager, said:

 “I welcome this pioneering approach to meeting a critical care need. The challenges presented by the pandemic have unlocked huge opportunities for re-imagining the status quo by harnessing the abundance of innovative thinking and creativity we have witnessed across the region. I’m thrilled to support Cardiff and Vale University Health Board through our first Innovation Challenge. It opens up significant opportunities for the industry-leading creative sector we have in South East Wales – with a live project that will deliver rapid innovation for our NHS both within the region and further afield.  

“This is the chance to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’, introducing high fidelity simulation and interactive digital training that reflects the clinical environment and can be embraced across NHS Wales and the UK with future opportunities for the chosen application to be further developed for wider use in basic, intermediate and advanced life support.” 

 A successful outcome for this simulation challenge would:

  • Deliver Tracheostomy training in an appropriate, safe way.
  • Make the training experience as close as possible to the bedside experience, providing a real sense of the actual environment.
  • Reduce the need for face-to-face training.
  • Deliver training in a more convenient method, without time or location restrictions, increasing numbers being trained and reducing any backlogs.
  • Enable consistency of training provided across all Health Boards, including the recording, review and analysis of training procedures.
  • Enable the clinician to maintain clinical competencies and any revalidation requirements.
  • Have a wider applicability to address similar issues in other specialities.
  • Ensure patient safety was maintained through providing relevant training to clinicians.
  • Generate opportunities for local businesses (e.g. within the creative industry sector).
  • Support place-based economic development and local wealth building in the CCR.
  • Result in innovative new products and services which have a pathway to rapid scaling commercially beyond local markets.

 Paul Twose, Consultant Therapist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Clinical Lead for the challenge, said:

 “The launch of this Challenge Fund is the result of strong partnership working across Wales and the culmination of several years of work within this field at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Since 2019, we have been striving to improve the quality and safety of the care given to patients with tracheostomies by improving the skills and confidence of staff to make rapid decisions often under intense amounts of pressure, then spreading what we have learnt across the whole health system in Wales.

 “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges to everyone in the NHS but it has presented us with an opportunity to drive meaningful change and I believe that the outcome of this Challenge Fund has the potential to enhance training for all staff across Wales. Everyone involved in this project is thrilled and honoured that Cardiff and Vale UHB is at the heart of the first CCR Challenge fund, and excited to see its outcome.”

Challenge Structure & Timeline

The challenge will be structured across three phases with key dates listed below. Innovations must be suitable for rapid deployment in tracheostomy training for Phase 1 and any solution must have wider applicability to other clinical settings.

Phase 1 – Feasibility: funding up to five projects, to a value of £30,000 each for Phase 1. Only projects successful at Phase 1 will be eligible to apply to Phases 2 and 3.

Phase 2 – Development: funding up to two of the most successful projects from Phase 1, for use in tracheostomy training within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, as well as developing agreed additional training packages outside of tracheostomy.

Phase 3 – Testing: robustly testing up to two of the successful Phase 2 solutions in ‘real life’ operating conditions within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, making final technical improvements to provide assurance and validation to other Health Boards across Wales who may wish to adopt the solution post SBRI. Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate and possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

Lynda Jones, SBRI Centre Manager, said:

 “It is a privilege to be able to assist and project manage CCR’s first challenge.  It is a great opportunity for us to assist our colleagues in Cardiff and Vale Health Board revolutionising training across Wales and potentially further afield.”

The successful solution will deliver an inspirational learning experience (e.g. through virtual reality simulation) for full accreditation and rapid ‘real world’ deployment by no later than October 2021.

 There will be an online briefing event for interested bidders taking place on 13th May between 9am and 11a.m. Find out more here:

Business Wales Events Finder – Welsh Government, W, Event organisers (

Details of how to apply for this specific challenge can be found at:

 Further information on the both the Challenge Fund approach and the requirements of this particular challenge will be available to watch in a hosted digital panel discussion which will be broadcast by Business News Wales w/c May 3rd.

The CCR Challenge Fund welcomes expressions of interest for further challenges. To connect for an initial discussion, please email our delivery partners at Cardiff University on [email protected] to find out more.