Businesses that can develop "cutting-edge" solutions to major public health problems such as obesity and alcohol misuse are being offered the chance to compete for £4 million worth of research funding.
The Department of Health (DH) has said that it will offer the money, split evenly between two competitions, to firms that can develop technological and innovative solutions that will change people's behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity- and alcohol-related diseases and improve the number of patients taking their prescribed medication.
The solutions could be anything from devices to help people monitor what they eat or drink, through to personalised care packages to help people take their medication as prescribed, added the DH.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "Technology and innovation have an important role to play in helping to address the healthcare challenges facing the NHS. That is why we are investing £20 million in new and creative ideas and projects which can make a difference to patients' lives."
Alcohol- and obesity-related diseases are, between them, estimated to cost the NHS more than £7 billion per year, and around 6% to 10% of hospital admissions could be preventable if prescription medication was taken correctly, the Government has said.
The competitions will be run through the Government's Small Business Research Initiative and are open to all organisations, not just those in the health sector.
The application process for the obesity and alcohol competition is through NHS London. The deadline for applications is 1 June 2012.
The prescription medicines competition is being run through Health Enterprise East and the deadline for this is 18 May 2012.