Creating a digital ecosystem

There are a number of challenges to rolling out a digital health and care system, not least the difficulties in sustaining health innovation ecosystems beyond funding cycles. Against this background, networking to build interdisciplinary cross-sector consortia focused on digital health innovation and implementation is an important part of the Centre for Health Technology's (CHT) approach to build sustainable adoption of innovation and to encourage economic impact. 

An important role for the CHT is to support the development of the digital health market place in the South West region. In addition to facilitating partnerships, members of CHT offer practical business support and funding to local innovators.


We have established the South West Interdisciplinary Technology Consortium for Health and Care (SWITCH) - an interdisciplinary cross-sector consortium focused on digital health innovation and implementation. Coordinated by Chatterjee it is part of the European Connected Health Alliance and linked to the wider Digital Health Ecosystem Network, SWITCH seeks to incubate, accelerate, embed and export innovative technology solutions in health and care.

It brings together organisations from the South West and beyond to create an ecosystem to collaborate, share best practice, explore shared challenges around health, care and wellness with the view to foster economic growth in the region. It will provide a single front door for industry, researchers and investors looking for partners, infrastructure and expertise, acting as the ‘go-to’ innovation enabler for service users, funders and local businesses.

South West Creative Technology Network - SWCTN

Running alongside SWITCH, the South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) is a £6.5 million project to expand the use of creative technologies across the south west of England.

The project aims to develop a new, networked model of knowledge exchange for creative technologies innovation. It will do this by harnessing the expertise in creative technology research across the South West region to deliver a series of interdisciplinary research and development programmes that grow the capabilities and connections between the participating higher education institutions and industry partners.


eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary project, initially funded in 2017 by a grant of £2.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the South West Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), it received a further £4m to extend the project until 2023. In addition to supporting the production of health and care innovations, an important aim of EPIC is to boost the tech sector in our region.
Services available include:

Academic support: Providing dedicated research expertise. This could be by conducting a review of existing literature to evidence your proof of concept, assistance understanding how to evaluate eHealth projects, guidance on how to undertake usability testing or support to encourage end-user collaboration and co-design.

Funding support specific for the development of eHealth innovations. As well as helping developers connect to grant funding from specific calls or large bodies such as NIHR, Innovate, SBRI, and helping in the preparation of grant proposals, EPIC has a large challenge focused on the testing and scaling of ideas and solutions.

Student internships. Our work-based internship scheme takes care of contractual legalities and insurance cover, as well as helping developers through the recruitment and interview process. We have deployed computer science, digital marketing, nursing and allied health professional students in this way.

SWITCH Testbed (with Kernow Health CIC & SW AHSN). Through our partners, Kernow Health CIC, EPIC is able to offer five hours of free support through the Digital and eHealth Testbed. The Testbed supports companies developing innovations that relate to Primary and Community Care, offering a unique way to test solutions in real-world healthcare environments. This enables the gathering of practical evidence of efficacy and real-world feedback, to be used to overcome traditional barriers of engaging with the NHS.

Access to the EPICentre; innovation lab and business facilities. Our ‘EPICentre’ is based in the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre (HWIC) on the grounds of Treliske hospital, Truro. Within this facility we can offer small to medium enterprises (SMEs) support in showcasing their technology, conducting usability testing and co-designing workshops, as well the use of the hot desks and meeting space.

During the first phase of EPIC alone, the team engaged with 150 SMEs to support them to engage in the digital healthcare market with 60 SMEs in a position to benefit from the Challenge Fund and 30 SMEs receiving non-financial support. Access to finance was provided through a grant programme for 30 enterprises to develop their products, processes or services in response to specific “challenges” identified in the sector. Intensive support was provided to 25 enterprises to develop a commercially viable product, process or service.
Providing the foundation for a growing and sustainable eHealth and social care sector in the region is part of our civic mission.