SBRI Funding press release photo

From left to right, Senior Clinical Scientist and acting service lead at Barnsley Hospital, Simon Judge, Managing Director of GSPK Design Ltd, Paul Marsh and Commercial Director of D4D Ltd, Oliver Wells

Knaresborough electronics design company, GSPK Design Ltd, will be developing a new product in partnership with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The £76,000 phase one initial development contract was awarded to GSPK Design after being shortlisted out of two hundred applicants through the Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare) with funding given by NHS England and Papworth hospital NHS Foundation Trust. GSPK Design, working in partnership with Barnsley Hospital and the NIHR Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative (D4D), will develop EMGage, a novel smart switch to help people who have acute brain injury or severe disabilities using tiny electrical signals produced by muscles (electromyography, EMG) to communicate.

With the aid of the EMGage product, users will be able to control devices such as their wheelchair, computer devices and communication aids, something which they are currently unable to do. The technology is intended to improve the lives of people who face hard challenges with simple everyday tasks.

There may be between 8000 and 15000 people who currently use electronic assistive technologies in the UK, for whom GSPK Design hope to be shaping the future for electronic switch based technology.

Managing director of GSPK Design, Paul Marsh, said “We are very excited to have been awarded this funding and it shows what faith the NHS have in us being able to deliver. Having the ability to design and manufacture under one roof set us aside from the competition and put us in a strong position to develop this potentially life changing product.”

Senior Clinical Scientist and acting service lead at Barnsley Hospital, Simon Judge said, “We are excited to be working with GSPK Design and think that as a result of this foresighted funding from SBRI Healthcare we will be able to create a device that will make a big difference to the lives of many people with significant physical disabilities.” Simon believes the EMGage has significant potential to be a world leading assistive device.

Speaking on behalf of D4D, Commercial Director of Devices for Dignity Ltd, Oliver Wells said “The Health Technology Co-operatives were set up to help companies like GSPK Design to work with people in the NHS to address real patient needs. This project is a perfect example of how Devices for Dignity can pioneer new technology to the benefit of patients, businesses, the NHS and the economy as a whole.” D4D is hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and empowers patients to live more dignified, independent lives.

The current phase of the project to prove the concept is set to take six months at which point GSPK Design will have the opportunity to seek further funding to take the product to market.