Technology developed for space often makes its way back to planet Earth: NASA research has led to advances in prosthetics, firefighter gear, and even baby food. And now, the U.K. Space Agency is trying to bring some of its tech to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, the national healthcare system.
Last month, the Space Agency launched a competition to award seed money to designers who have an idea for using space technology in medical applications. The organization is planning to offer about $5.3 million (or 4 million pounds) to a maximum of four winning concepts.
The NHS has used adapted space tech in the past as well. One application: breast cancer screening vans, which travel around the country making mammograms more accessible to citizens. Then, the scans are pinged back to the NHS so radiologists can look at them faster, using technology that was developed by the U.K. Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Program.
The Earth products that use technology from space programs is only possible because it’s been funded by the government–in the business world, technology is only applied when there’s serious money to be made. That’s a problem in healthcare in particular, with business interests from Big Pharma and insurance companies often coming before patients’ needs. With a government agency hosting a competition of this type, it removes the skewed incentives of many entrepreneurs and encourages people to develop good ideas, independent of financial goals
The competition is in honor of the NHS’s 70th anniversary and is open to everyone. You can apply here.