Innovators in Suffolk have the chance to bid for a slice of £4 million for revolutionary projects that empower people to stay healthy and out of hospital.

Commissioners want to invest in “outside the box” initiatives that will help to prevent people in the county falling ill in the first place and needing costly treatment.

Grants are available to any person or group with a bright idea, which could be the fire service, police force, charities, councils or members of the public.

The money is on offer by Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from surplus funds from 2017/18.

Ed Garratt, chief officer for the CCGs, said: “We are in a fortunate position where we can have managed our finances well over past 12 months and we have a little bit of contingency so rather than holding that back for a rainy day we want to see what great ideas there are in Suffolk that we could potentially back to make a real difference.”

He added: “What we are hoping is that there will be some really great examples of care being provided closer to home and people feeling that their health is being supported in a different way and in a more creative way.”

The initiative is part of a wider NHS shake-up across Suffolk and north east Essex.

The focus has shifted to illness prevention, offering more care out of acute hospitals, making better use of technology, reducing duplication and waste, and breaking down barriers between health organisations.

There is £3m up for grabs in “transformation funds” for projects in Ipswich and east Suffolk, and £1m in west Suffolk.

Dr Garratt said he was particularly keen to invest in initiatives that focused around mental wellbeing in schoolchildren.

He added: “They are under such pressure with exams and social issues and social media and all the pressures young people have and we know that supporting people when they are young can really support resilience for when they are adults too.”

The CCGs are currently leading on a major review of mental health care in Suffolk.

Details on how to apply for funding can be found here.