Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has become an official ambassador for the Digital Health & Care Institute, a Scotland based organisation that promotes the use of technology to improve health and care services in the UK and across the world.
The Digital Health & Care Institute brings together people and organisations in the public, charity, technology, design and academic sectors to develop new ideas for digital technology that will improve health and care services. Its ambition is to address needs in Scotland and support companies to export proven technologies internationally, creating jobs and investment locally and helping other countries to solve similar health challenges.
DHI’s project portfolio is worth over £4 million and includes over 100 projects engaging more than 50 companies, 15 of Scotland’s Universities, 25 third sector organisations and more than 1,000 members from over 20 countries.
Building on his personal interest in digital technologies to improve and monitor health and wellbeing, and with his recent experiences of working with start-up companies in the health, sport and wearable technology markets, Murray’s philanthropic involvement will raise awareness of DHI’s work with international digital health entrepreneurs and investors.
He will also promote skills, educational and career opportunities in this emerging market for young people.
Murray is well known for his use of technology and data to improve his performance on court and has stated that maintaining his own health throughout the long tennis season is key to his success.
As such, he is well positioned to champion the digital health message and his global popularity will help take the DHI brand and the work they do to a wider audience.
Speaking of his new role, Murray said: “My partnership with the Digital Health & Care Institute has come about because I am really interested in how digital technologies can improve health. I obviously have a personal interest in that area because anything that can improve my own health will only improve my performance on court. The work that DHI are doing is changing lives and solving some really important health and care challenges, at home and abroad, and I am proud to be supporting their work.”
Justene Ewing, chief executive officer at DHI, says: “Our nation has a clear agenda to boost productivity through innovation and enterprise, so Scotland is the place to be supported and engaged in digital health and care. As a Scot with an international perspective and global recognition, we’re delighted that Andy sees the opportunity in supporting DHI’s aims of enabling dynamic and fast-paced transformation programmes for entrepreneurs to collaborate with the NHS in Scotland, third sector organisations, universities and citizens.”
A keystone of the five-year partnership will be an annual competition that challenges colleges and schools to solve a major health problem. The winner, to be picked by Murray and his chosen panel of experts after a two stage shortlisting process, will be developed into prototype and evaluated through DHI’s own innovation processes. Support will also be sought from Scottish SMEs and investors with a view to commercialising the successful solution.
Ms Ewing adds: : “We’re extremely excited to have Andy on our team and really look forward to building a strong relationship with him. His ongoing and increasingly active support for entrepreneurialism and innovation is a great asset. It’s inspiring to have someone of Andy’s profile and calibre committing to a partnership with us to promote digital health in Scotland, with all the potential benefits it can provide to the health and wellbeing of people at home and abroad.”
The Scottish Government’s National Clinical Strategy published earlier this year reported that current projections suggest that the population of Scotland will rise to 5.78 million by 2037, and that the population will age significantly, with the number of people aged 65 and over increasing by 59%, from 0.93 million to 1.47 million. The strategy sets out the demands that demographic changes will create, highlighting dementia and cancer as two key areas to be addressed through changes in the capacity and type of health and care services provided.
A Deloitte report for the UK Government found that the global market for digital health will be worth approximately £43 billion in 2018, with the UK accounting for around 7% of that. It also expects annual cumulative growth of 11%, driven mainly by markets such as mobile health and health analytics. Scotland is aiming to be a world leader in digital health and care with an estimated market value of up to £400 million by 2020.
Scotland’s vision as a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation is supported by numerous strategies including the Scottish Government’s innovation centre programme funded by the Scottish Funding Council, of which DHI is one, hosted by the University of Strathclyde. Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “Innovations in digital health and the way they are used can make a real difference to the lives and wellbeing of people across Scotland as well as offer tremendous opportunities to create jobs and support our economic growth.
“The research, innovation and technology supported and developed through DHI will have far-reaching societal benefits across the world and opens up a global market for Scottish entrepreneurs. I am extremely pleased that Andy will help raise the profile of Scotland’s excellence in this area given his own international profile.”