Boosting Occupational Health in the UK: Innovations and Initiatives

In order to ensure the wellbeing of employees across all industries, occupational health is of the utmost importance. The UK government is aware of the need to increase access to occupational health services, particularly for independent workers and small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs.

To combat this, the UK government has launched a competition called the Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health in cooperation with Innovate UK, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Department for Health and Social Care.

This £1 million initiative intends to promote innovation and enhance employee health outcomes through the use of technology and bringing fresh ideas for occupational health.

What Are the Competition’s Objectives?

The Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health competition, which runs from 30 January 2023 to 15 March 2023, aims at improving the health and welfare of SMEs and the self-employed. Successful competitors are eligible for up to £100,000 in funding to support their ventures.

The competition seeks proposals that align with three primary objectives:
1. Discover new and innovative ways to deliver occupational health services that drive better access for SMEs and the self-employed.

2. Explore how the occupational health market can better serve the demand for occupational health services.

3. Deliver scalable innovations through new services and the effective use of technology.
All with the aim and government’s goal to create healthier, welfare-driven working spaces that encourage and promote growth, improve the lives of workers and overall quality of technological developments in the country.


What Innovations Have Already Been Funded?

The Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health competition has encouraged the use of artificial intelligence and data collection, to improve health outcomes. Leveraging these advancements can make occupational health services more accessible and convenient.

FC Labs: Sensors for Improved Focus and Accident Prevention

One innovative company that has secured funding through the competition is FC Labs. They have developed sensors that can detect when a worker is losing focus, providing them with a “nudge” through an app to help them avoid accidents or errors.
These sensors, typically inserted into hard hats, use near-infrared light to measure blood flow and oxygen levels in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. This technology aims to enhance self-awareness and encourage the uptake of occupational health support.

Latus Health: Remote Health Screening and Consultations

Another successful applicant to the fund is Latus Health, which focuses on remote health screening and consultations. Their platform, Yodha, enables employees to book appointments, store medical notes, and have video consultations with clinicians.
This technology allows for a streamlined process, ensuring that employees receive the necessary screenings and medical support while reducing the need for in-person visits. Latus Health’s proposal aligns with the goal of improving access to occupational health services, particularly for SMEs.
Innovate UK, the Department for Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions have partnered to create the Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health.

The Role of Innovate UK

Innovate UK, an arm of UK Research and Innovation, is responsible for administering the Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health competition. They will evaluate applications and provide funding to the most promising projects.
Innovate UK has a proven track record of supporting innovative initiatives in the country, and for running research and development initiatives across departments and sectors.
Through their involvement, the competition will benefit from the expertise and guidance needed to ensure the successful implementation of innovative solutions in occupational health.
Under the stewardship of Minister Tom Pursglove, the UK government is redefining occupational health through significant investment, cross-sector collaborations, and innovative initiatives like the Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health competition.
This commitment fosters workplaces that support employee well-being and embraces emerging technologies to meet evolving health needs.
Benchmarking international best practices and promoting cohesion between the government, occupational health practitioners, and the NHS underpin this strategy, ensuring comprehensive and accessible occupational health services across the UK.