Transformation Directorate

NHS begins new search for AI tools to save lives and improve care

Applications for the second round of the AI in Health and Care Award have opened today, it’s been announced by the NHS.

Technology companies, researchers and developers are now able to bid for funding to help develop and test their artificial intelligence and machine learning products safely in the NHS.

In September the results of the first round of the £140m AI in Health and Care Award were announced, with over 500 applications paired down to 42 projects sharing over £50m. The award is managed by the Accelerated Access Collaborative in partnership with NHSX and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

First round winners set to be tested in the NHS include a phone app that could help detect early kidney disease in urine samples of diabetic patients, an algorithm that could remove the need for the second human reader to assess breast cancer screening scans, and a computer software platform that uses AI to help detect early lung cancer.

Today applications for the second round have opened looking for the best AI products that could help meet the objectives of the NHS Long Term plan. In particular, applications are   encouraged for Phases 3 and 4 in the following areas:

  • Triage
  • Screening
  • Imaging
  • Intelligent operational automation

Indra Joshi, director of AI at NHSX, said: “Artificial intelligence and machine learning have enormous potential in healthcare. This award will help us harness the enormous range of innovation in AI so the NHS can be a world leader in the use and deployment of these cutting edge technologies.

“Before we can roll out these new devices or processes, the award will enable us to test and evaluate them so we can make sure they deliver the expected benefits to staff and patients.

“We had a huge amount of interest in the first round of the AI in Health and Care Award and, once again we would encourage all those who have an AI tool or product they think could help the NHS to apply now.”

Matt Whitty, chief executive of the Accelerated Access Collaborative and director of innovation, research and life sciences at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “There is a huge amount of innovation and research ongoing in the field of AI at the moment and this award is an excellent opportunity for the NHS to test and deploy the best solutions available.

“We don’t just want to hear about finished products, the award is also designed to support those in the early stages of development who need a bit of extra help.”

The NHS AI Lab is a key part of the effort to increase the use of innovative new technologies in the health service.

The AI in Health and Care Award will distribute £140m over three years, with the second Round of applications opening today and closing at 1pm on December 8th.

For further information please contact the NHSX communications team at

Notes to editors

To apply for the Award please visit the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative website.

More information about the AI Award is available on our NHS AI Lab.

There are four categories to the AI Award:

  • Phase 1 - to support the demonstration of the technical and clinical feasibility of the proposed concept, product or service.
  • Phase 2 - to support the development and evaluation of prototypes and generate early clinical safety/efficacy data.
  • Phase 3 - to support the first real-world tests in health and social care settings of AI products or tools to develop evidence of efficacy and preliminary proof of effectiveness, including evidence for routes to implementation to enable rapid adoption.
  • Phase 4 - to support the spread of AI products or tools that have market authorisation but insufficient evidence to merit large-scale commissioning or deployment. Successful products will be adopted in a number of NHS sites to stress test and evaluate the AI technology within routine clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy, and clinical and economic impact.

About the NHS AI Lab

The NHS AI Lab is a focal point to accelerate the safe adoption of AI into the front line of health and care. It brings together government, the NHS, academics and technology companies to help tackle some of the toughest challenges in health and care.

The NHS AI Lab believes in creating a sustainable health and care system which achieves better outcomes, equality and fairness for all.  We want to support AI technologies that have potential to improve the quality of health and care services while building a robust ethical and regulatory framework to ensure patient and citizen safety. 

About the Accelerated Access Collaborative 

The Accelerated Access Collaborative brings together industry, government, regulators, patients and the NHS to remove barriers and accelerate the introduction of ground-breaking new treatments and diagnostics which can transform care. The AAC supports all types of innovations: medicines, diagnostics, devices, digital products, pathway changes and new workforce models.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

About NHSX

NHSX was created to give staff and citizens the technology they need and brings together teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

NHSX has five missions, which are focused on how we can make things better for patients and staff. These are:

  • Reduce the burden on our workforce, so they can focus on delivering care
  • Give people the tools to access information and services directly, so they can best take charge of their own health and care
  • Ensure information about people’s health and care can be safely accessed, wherever it is needed
  • Aid the improvement of safety across health and care systems
  • Improve health and care productivity with digital technology.