A £1 million fund for new ideas to boost health and welfare at work for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the self-employed was launched today.
Successful bidders will receive up to £100,000 to back their projects from 19 May 2023, with the Government looking for innovative solutions to drive better access for SMEs and the self-employed to Occupational Health (OH) services. Applicants are being encouraged to demonstrate how they would deliver improvements to OH, harnessing technology such as artificial intelligence or data collection, to deliver better health outcomes for employees of SMEs.
Better health provision for staff helps employers look after their workforce, meaning more are likely to stay in work. While larger employers often have better access to OH services, for smaller businesses and the self-employed the lack of support for people with health needs can potentially lead to more people becoming economically inactive.
Applications can be from those who work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector, with the Government looking for proposals to:
- Discover new and innovative ways for the OH market, which supports people to stay well in work, to deliver services that drive better access for SMEs and self-employed
- Discover new and innovative ways that the OH market can deliver services and better serve the demand for OH
- Deliver innovations that can be scaled up for businesses to have an impact in the OH market through new services and better use of technology
The competition is a joint venture between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), as part of the Joint Work and Health Unit, and in conjunction with Innovate UK, an arm of UK Research and Innovation. The fund will be open to applications from Monday 30th January and run until 15th March 2023.
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove MP, said:
“Good occupational health within workplaces is vital in supporting our overall health and standard of living. We spend so much of our lives at work, and it is imperative that our employers can give us the support we need to maintain our physical and mental health. This in turn means we can give our best at work.
“Through the launch of our new £1m fund, I look forward to seeing innovative, workable solutions to help SMEs deliver the best for their employees, creating healthier, welfare-driven working environments that will ultimately drive growth and improve people’s working lives.”
The new Fund to Stimulate Innovation in Occupational Health (OH) competition will be delivered in the form of a Small Business Research Initiative, a well-established, output driven funding tool run by Innovate UK.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said:
“This new £1 million fund will help us find better ways to support the health of our workforce – especially looking at small businesses and the self-employed.
“Making sure people stay well enough to work is so important – it means a bigger workforce, boosted productivity, and better quality of living.
“Successful bidders will look at innovative new ways to support people in their field of work, help them to live healthier, happier lives while driving growth in our economy.”
For more details about the Fund to Stimulate Innovation and how to apply, please visit this link.