Merck Sharp & Dohme and Wayra to give two start-ups £68,000 in joint accelerator

In its third year, the Velocity Health programme aims to help UK tech start-ups use artificial intelligence to combat the healthcare challenges facing the NHS

Global healthcare company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Wayra UK, the accelerator that is part of Telefónica Open Future_, want to give two start-ups £68,000 as part of its joint accelerator.

Now in its third year, the Velocity Health programme aims to help UK tech start-ups use artificial intelligence to combat the healthcare challenges facing the NHS.

This year, the partners are seeking start-ups who can help with the following challenge:

  • How technology can help support disease and illness prevention, with a particular focus on start-ups utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning

Two start-ups will be chosen to take up a 10-month accelerator programme where a network of mentors, coaches and investors will nurture each business to enable the development of innovative products and services to help deliver savings and efficiencies to the healthcare system.

Up to a total of £68,000 will be offered in investment to each start-up, which will include 50% funds and the rest made up of dedicated acceleration services such as access to a network of mentors, coaches and investors.

This will also include office space within Wayra UK’s new acceleration facility in Central London, potential access to Telefónica’s customer base of more than 300 million people, and MSD and Wayra’s local and global networks.

Dr Junaid Bajwa, director of healthcare services at MSD, said:

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“As a company, MSD is deeply committed to scientific discovery, working in partnership with the healthcare system and scaling innovation.

“Velocity Health 2018 aims to build on the achievements of the previous two years of Velocity Health and work with start-ups that truly complement the future of healthcare delivery.

“The NHS has made digital excellence the cornerstone of its future model and we must embrace this if we are to have a healthcare system fit for the 21st century.”

Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future_ (UK), said:

“Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing our lives in ways never previously thought possible, and it makes sense for us to seek brilliant entrepreneurs who can harness the power of data to improve the NHS and healthcare services globally, potentially transforming the lives of billions.”

Applications for the Velocity Health programme open today with the deadline for applications closing on 4 January. Finals will be taking place on 12 January 12.

To apply, start-ups should click here.