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Palantir could be in line for multi-million pound NHS deal, says analyst

The controversial US tech firm Palantir may be in line to secure a multi-million pound deal to provide its data integration software to the NHS.

In March the firm was enlisted to support the NHS’s pandemic response and help build a platform to predict demand on hospitals across the country.

NS Tech understands that Palantir’s initial contract, worth £1, has been extended after it was due to expire on 11 June. NHS England is preparing to announce the decision in the coming days.

But some have speculated that the extension will now give NHS England the time to carry out a formal procurement process and that if Palantir wins it, it could be set to pick a nine-figure deal.

Jonathan Cordwell, principal analyst for UK Health & Social Care at GlobalData, predicted that the deal could reach into the millions. He told NS Tech: “My personal view is that the contract will be relatively short but with extension options as to not put a cat among the pigeons in regards to: a) how long the crisis may pan out and b) how much they’re spending at such a financially sensitive time.

“Palantir also only just started to penetrate the NHS so don’t want to burn any bridges before they’re built.”

Palantir has recently inked a coronavirus-related deal with the US Department of Health and Human Services for $17.3m, and the initial outlay for the project was considerable. NS Tech understands that around 45 engineers were tasked with working on the project.

Palantir, which has worked on a number of contentious projects in the US from predictive policing systems to battlefield software, isn’t the only company that has been tasked with developing the Covid-19 data store, which assesses demand on the health service at both a local and national level.

The London AI company Faculty is providing the data modelling component of the project, which has been designed to aid government policy and coordinate key resources such as PPE, ventilators and oxygen in the fight against the disease. Google, Microsoft and Amazon are playing a smaller role, focused on cloud computing services.

One source working on the project last month described it as the best planning tool the NHS has ever had, prompting speculation that Palantir’s work in the health service would outlast the crisis.

But the source also said Palantir would have a better chance of doing so winning further NHS work if it was willing to offer its services at less than the market rate. It may be willing to do so if it helps it to secure further work in other national health services in the future.