Background Summary 

Asthma affects approximately 1 in 11 people in the UK. It is one of the few chronic health conditions that affects children and young people more than older people. Asthma is a fluctuating condition with periods of stability and periods of poor control. Overall cost to the NHS in the UK is greater than £1 billion per year.

Predicting an asthma attack, where there is loss of symptom control, is often associated with family or life changes and poor adherence. Viral infections, environmental triggers, seasonal changes etc. also upset symptom control and can lead to an attack. This attack, which will need an increase in therapy and may result in a hospital admission, is the end point of a period of loss of symptom control which may be up to a month in development. While adherence to treatment is a major factor influencing risk of attack, there are many underlying complex issues that prevent children and young people from adhering to their medication.

Asthma attacks are dangerous. They represent a failure of management and can result in loss of school, lost earnings, loss of confidence, loss of sleep, admission to hospital, requirement for intensive care or, in the worst cases, permanent neurological impairment or death due to lack of oxygen to the brain. Severe outcomes are rare but tragically are considered avoidable. Severe attacks can result in a significant aftermath of anxiety, avoidance of normal life activities and general chronic family worry. There is also a high healthcare cost due to poor asthma control.

Challenge Objectives

This open innovation challenge focuses on several aspects of care of children and young people with asthma (5 to 18 years).

Aspects of Care:

  •         Fluctuating nature of asthma and impact of attacks on the individual, family, and healthcare systems.
  •         Limitations of current healthcare system and proposed solutions.
  •         Young person-centred approach to communication and appointments
  •         Evolution of digital health towards integration of high-quality data into clinical system
  •         Impact of poverty on health outcomes

The main challenge will look at

A new system that integrates with existing clinical systems to collect and process clinical data from the various sources (e.g., hospital, primary care, out of hours) and then enable a response to change the outcome for the at-risk individual.


A) A way to understand more about individuals outside the conventional face to face or synchronous online consultation. We would like to utilise novel methods of communication that suit children and young people of different ages and developmental stages.

B) A solution that utilises existing technology (e.g., apps, home monitoring devices) in an innovative way where collected data are used to inform the risk category for an at-risk individual.

Applicants can apply for a share of £210,000, inclusive of VAT over a 2-phase competition. Phase 1 is allocated £60,000 for up to 4 projects. Phase 1 projects can range in size up to total costs of £15,000 inclusive of VAT. Phase 2 is allocated £150,000 for up to 2 contracts. Phase 2 projects can range in size up total costs of £75,000 inclusive of VAT.

Long Term Goals of The Project

In the long term we wish to see a reduction in the reliance of people with asthma on emergency care services, as signs of deterioration are met with a specific and focussed clinical response. We wish to see clinicians caring for children and young people with asthma spending the right amount of time with them to make a correct diagnosis, understand them and their condition, and to support them towards long-term effective self-management.

Clinical Lead for the Challenge

The children and young people remote asthma challenge is being run by Dr Kenneth Macleod Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician based at the Royal Hospital For Children and Young People.

Kenny Macleod is a children’s asthma doctor and based at the Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh for the past 9 years. He works in a team of asthma nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists and for a long time and has passion to improve how we look after children with asthma.

“We get most worried about the patients who find it very difficult to take their regular treatment and for various reasons find it difficult to get to clinic appointments. We know that certain patients are at higher risk of an asthma attack, but we only find out about them once they’ve already had an attack. We would like to be able to predict who is at greatest risk before the event. We also know that asthma attacks can at least be disruptive and difficult, but at worst they are a preventative cause of death. The idea of being able to predict who is going to have an attack and do something about it could make a huge difference to children and young people with asthma.”


Delivery Partners

Health Innovation South East Scotland (HISES), NHS Lothian, and The University of Edinburgh, The DataLoch, CSO


SBRI Key Dates

  • Competition opens: 18th October 2023
  • Deadline for queries sent to Public Contract Scotland: 6th December 2023
  • Competition closes: 13th December 2023
  • Notification of applicant winners: W/C 12th February 2024
  • Phase 1 start date:  April 2024


Funding Partner

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Chief Scientists Office (CSO) in Scottish Government and hosted by Health Innovation South East Scotland


Watch our Live Event here


More information to come as this challenge develops.


Further Reading


Why asthma still kills | RCP London


International comparisons of health and wellbeing in adolescence and early adulthood


At-risk children with asthma (ARC): a systematic review (