UK healthtech startups to watch

Healthtech is a booming market that is set to grow rapidly, as the effects of an ageing population and cuts to the NHS make technology a crucial source of savings and new methods of treatment.

According to the Association of British HealthTech Industries, the UK healthtech sector is now the largest employer in the broader Life Sciences industry, employing 127,400 people in 3,860 companies, with a combined turnover of £24 billion.

Here are some of the top healthtech startups attracting the investment.

Read next: AI startups to watch

Pando Health
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Pando Health

Founded in 2016 by two UK-based doctors and a serial entrepreneur, Pando Health is a messaging app that allows healthcare professionals to communicate securely.

The platform also includes a task management feature for creating patient lists and tasks that can be shared with the team and updated as they develop.

Formerly known as Forward Health, the app is currently being used by over 25,000 professionals in 200 NHS hospitals. The app also functions as a wellness tool, and hospitals that use Pando Health have noticed an improvement in workplace satisfaction and patient care.

The platform is fully encrypted, GDPR- and NHS-compliant and is free for all NHS staff to download and use.

Pando Health rebranded in January 2020 - when it also announced a $5 million (£3.86 million) cash injection from investment firm Skip Capital, which joined exisitng investors Stride.VC and Albion Capital.

Elder
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Elder

Founded in 2015 by Pete Dowds and Tom Brooks, Elder is an online platform connecting vulnerable elderly people with healthcare professionals at home.

With the number of over-85s in the UK set to hit the 3 million mark in 2043, the demand for social care has never been greater. Elder's live-in care service provides vulnerable people with a carer who lives at the property with the patient. The idea is to keep elderly people living in their own homes, rather than opting for a care home.

Since 2016, Elder has provided more than 350,000 days of care in 300 towns and cities across the UK. The only area where it is yet to deliver care is the Outer Hebrides.

In January 2020, Elder announced it had raised another £8.2 million in its Series B funding round, bringing the total raised to £16.5 million.

Walk With Path

Walk With Path

After her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Lise Pape set about creating a way to help him with his mobility issues.

Pape, who has a masters in innovation design and engineering from Imperial College and the Royal College of Art, created a shoe attachment that shines a laser to guide a person’s path.

In 2014, Pape founded Walk With Path to help people with diseases like Parkinson’s or MS reduce the amount of injuries from falling, which is associated with these long-term conditions.

Sufferers often experience ‘freezing of gait’, a symptom causing individuals to feel as if they are stuck, or frozen to the ground and with Walk With Path’s ‘guided shoes’ the feeling of unsteadiness can be remedied by providing guidelines, coming from the shoe attachment.

The company also provides insoles which send vibrations throughout the sole and up to the foot. This aims to help people with sensory issues due to illnesses such as peripheral neuropathy.

Open Bionics

Open Bionics

Open Bionicscreates affordable, robotic prosthetics. in 2018, the company launched the "Hero Arm", a lightweight, 3D-printed bionic hand that is available in customisable colours and designs for children as young as eight. The Hero Arm is currently available in the USA, UK and France.

In January 2019, James Cameron and 20th Century Fox partnered with Open Bionics to give 13-year-old double amputee a pair of Hero Arms inspired by Alita: Battle Angel, the James Cameron film fashioned after manga series, Gunnm.

The Bristol-based startup was founded in 2014 by Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne, who were named two of the "Hottest Startup Founders" at the European startup award ceremony the Europas. To date, the company has raised a total of £4.6 million in Series A funding.

Oxford Heartbeat

Oxford Heartbeat

Oxford Heartbeat develops medical device software that's designed to make minimally invasive surgery more efficient and effective by providing surgeons with crucial real-time information about what's happening in the body.

The company was founded in 2016 by Dr Katerina Spranger, who got the idea while studying for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Oxford University. As part of her training, she would visit hospitals to observe surgical procedures, and was shocked by the outdated systems used by the clinicians.

She created Oxford Heartbeat to develop a solution. Its software converts 2D medical scans into 3D images, which surgeons can use to test different medical devices for each individual patient, before picking the best tools and methods for the job.

Babylon Health

Babylon Health

Babylon Healthis behind the smartphone app GP at Hand, which allows patients to video call doctors on demand. It recently made headlines when health and social care secretary Matt Hancock told The Telegraph that the app was "revolutionary" and he wanted it to be available to all.

The app also includes an AI-powered chatbot that allows users to ask medical questions 24/7 and a feature that can order prescriptions to your nearest pharmacy. It also doubles up as a health monitoring app which can be synced with wearable devices.

Customers can pay £44.97 every three months for unlimited GP access or £149 for an annual subscription. On-off appointments are charged at £49 per consultation and specialist and therapist appointments also cost extra.

The company raised $60 million (£47 million) in funding in 2017 from NNS holdings, Vostok New Ventures and returned investors Kinnevik AB. This followed a $25 million (£20 million) round the previous year, which included investment from DeepMind cofounders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman.

In August 2019, Babylon Health announced it had closed a $550 million (£425 million) round of funding, leading to the company being valued at more than $2 billion (£1.5 billion). This is the largest-ever fundraise in Europe or the USA for digital health delivery.

BenevolentAI
© BenevolentAI

BenevolentAI

BenevolentAIis applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to the genomics space, with two business units: Benevolent Bio, which focuses on drug discovery, and BenevolentTech, which is more of a research institution looking at the application of AI to genomic data.

The startup's aim is to expedite the traditional drug research process by ingesting huge amounts of data and literature using proprietary algorithms and NVIDIA's DGX-1 deep learning supercomputer. It then builds tools on top to match the workflow of drug discovery scientists so that they can easily mine and interrogate the data, ideally reducing the time to market for important drugs.

The existing drug development process can take at least fifteen years, costs upwards of tens of billions of dollars and is high risk, according to BenevolentBio CEO Jackie Hunter. "Most people in the pharmaceutical industry work on things that never make it to market or even to man," she told Techworld.

Read next: Meet the bioinformatics startups applying AI and machine learning to genetics to bring precision medicine to Europe

BenevolentAI is one of the best-funded healthtech startups in the UK, bringing in a total of $229 million of investment over three rounds of funding. However, in July 2019 it was revealed that despite a $115 million (£89 million) funding round in April of that year, the company was raising money at a level well below its $2bn (£1.6bn) valuation.

In September 2019, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek took a majority stake in BenevolentAI, giving it a downgraded valuation of $1 billion (£800 million). The AI firm was previously valued at $2 billion ($1.5 billion) but has narrowly retained its unicorn status.

OurPath
© OurPath

OurPath

OurPathis a digital behavioural change programme designed to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their illness by living more active lives, helping to prevent or reduce their symptoms.

The startup produces a fitness wristband that monitors the user's steps, sleep and heart rate and weighing scales to track their progress. The products respectively use a small SIM card and bluetooth to automatically sync with the user's phone, which provides real-time updates on their condition over a six-week digital programme.

OurPath was founded in 2014 and has raised a total of $3.3M in funding over seven rounds. Their latest funding was raised on August 2018 from a Seed round. The London-based startup was one of 31 companies in the 2016-17 cohort of the DigitalHealth.London accelerator programme where it secured an NHS commission to pilot its technology.

The platform has now been adopted across more than 50 Clinical Commissioning Groups in partnership with the NHS and are a part of Wave 2 of the NHS Test Beds project, delivering a new approach to diabetes management across Hampshire and Farnham.

uMotif
© uMotif

uMotif

Founded in 2012, uMotif focuses on bringing high-quality patient data to doctors and clinical researchers.

For patients, uMotif is a way of capturing timely and accurate symptom, medication and wearable data in an engaging mobile app format. The addition of more timely data aims to improve patient care and data quality for researchers.

For doctors and clinical researchers, it offers a white label Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product, providing a secure patient data source which is accessible through a web portal, complete with dashboards. All data is HIPAA (USA) and Information Governance (UK) compliant and is stored in the cloud with AWS.

To date, the startup has raised a total of £3.2M in funding over four rounds. Their latest funding was raised in June 2018 from a Venture - Series Unknown round.

HomeTouch

HomeTouch

HomeTouchis us a home care marketplace that families with eldery parents can use to find trained and vetted live-in carers. Families can find local professional carers with the specialties they need, while the careers can maximise their earnings by selling their services directly rather than relying on a middle person.

The startup was founded in 2015 by Dr Jamie Wilson, a former dementia physician who had witnessed his patients struggle to find reliable care from carers who were overworked and underpaid. His company has now raised a total of £1.75 million, which includes a £250,000 grant from the UK government.

Lantum

Lantum

Lantumaims to solve a specific issue within the NHS around availability of staff. The NHS spends billions on sourcing temporary doctors, known as locums, usually via agencies which take a hefty cut. Lantum acts as a marketplace connecting locums with GP practices, cutting out the agency middleman.

It has since expanded to become a wider platform for NHS workforce management, providing a suite of software as a service tools like e-rostering, compliance and shift booking. It also provides tools for doctors like diary management and expenses.

Launched in 2012, Lantum was the brainchild of founder and CEO Melissa Morris, who previously worked at McKinsey and briefly for the NHS directly. The startup has raised £10 million from investors so far and hopes to expand its 1,000-strong client base beyond GPs to hospitals.

Lantum acquired Leicester-based rLocums in 2016 and popular GP invoicing tool Locum Organiser in 2017 to expand the product offering to its users.

Feebris
© Feebris

Feebris

Feebrisanalyses data from healthcare devices such as digital stethoscopes and wearables to understand health problems in children and the elderly.

Founder Elina Naydenova came up with the idea while working at the World Health Organisation.

Her anger that pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under the age of five despite being straightforward to treat led her to search for a way to increase the speed of diagnosis.

She found it in AI, which can use data from symptoms such as pathological sounds in the lungs to quickly identify the presence of pneumonia.

Naydenova left the UN agency to study a PhD at Oxford, and surveyed 1,300 children in Mumbai to build evidence for Feebris.

Feebris is currently trialling its technology with children under the age of five in developing countries and elderly people with chronic conditions in UK retirement villages.

In 2018, the company received £10,000 in funding and mentor support from insurance accelerator RGAx after winning The Big Ideas Competition and was chosen for the HS. accelerator programme. The following year, Feebris was one of the first Google for Startups Residency cohort, raising £1.1 million in seed funding including a grant from Innovate UK and investment from 24 Haymarket.

Push Doctor

Push Doctor

Push Doctoris an online GP service that claims to connect patients to a doctor via video within minutes of their request and can send prescriptions to their local pharmacy on the same day of the appointment.

The Manchester-based startup was founded in July 2013. It's one of a number of on-demand GP services trying to fill the gap left by an overstretched NHS. In June 2019, health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission rated Push Doctor as 'Good', stating that it was providing a safe, effective, caring and responsive service.

In July 2017, Push Doctor raised $26.1 million (£19 million) in a Series B funding round led by Accelerated Digital Ventures and Draper Esprit. The cash injection brought the total investment in Push Doctor to $37.5 million (£27.2 million).

In December 2019, Push Doctor announced that from the end of January 2020 it would be concentrating on extending NHS video consultations and ending its paid, private service.

VideoDoc
© VideoDoc

VideoDoc

VideoDocoffers an online consultation service that promises to let patients see and speak to GPs through their smartphone or computer in under two minutes. This waiting time, it claims, is shorter than any other online doctor tool.

Patients can download the app and request to immediately see a doctor at the tap of a button. They then provide information on their health, preferred pharmacy and preferred method of payment.

Following the consultation, patients receive a personalised discharge summary, which includes a review of the doctor's advice and information on any prescriptions.

The company was founded in 2014 and the next year launched in Ireland, where it has now attracted more than 150,000 registered users. In June 2017, VideoDoc was approved by the Care Quality Commission for use by patients in England, Scotland and Wales.

Prices start from £20 for a one-off consultation, £55 for an individual annual subscription and £175 for a family annual subscription. Companies can also use the service, at the cost of £24 per employee.

DoctorLink
© DoctorLink

DoctorLink

DoctorLinkis designed to improve the patient experience and free up GP time by providing a personalised medical advice and digital triage in an online tool designed for the NHS.

Patients access DoctorLink through their GP practice's website. They then answer a series of system assessment questions that a clinical algorithm analyses before responding with tailored medical advice for self-care when appropriate. Patients can then book a face-to-face appointment or phone consultation through DoctorLink.

The clinically certified systems integrates with a practice's electronic health records, appointment booking and prescription management system, allowing doctors to ensure that urgent appointments are prioritised.

The London startup was founded in 2016 and has since been made available to 10 million NHS patients across 1,350 surgeries. The platform aims to reduce surgery appointments by around 20 percent by digitising aspects of care and administration and matching clinical support to the level of patient need.

Perfect Ward

Perfect Ward

Perfect Wardis an inspection tool that captures inspections onto phones or tablets and provides real-time reporting on any issues. Users receive immediate notification of results in-app with photos and free text comments on the findings. Automated alerts are sent on any due inspections and failings.

The system is designed to cut out inspecting time, paperwork and admin to free up staff to focus on patient care. The company claims it reduces the time taken for a manual inspection from 19 hours to 8.5 hours.

Perfect Ward was founded in 2015 and joined the DigitalHealth.London accelerator programme in 2016-17. In September 2017, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust joined the list of healthcare providers using the service, which also includes more than 70 ambulance stations in London.

Echo

Echo

Echois a free app which allows you to order repeat prescriptions to your door. You just tell Echo what prescription you need and where your local GP is, and it partners with NHS Digital to plug into the various systems needed to verify these details.

The prescription is then delivered to your door first class by Royal Mail for free. The app reminds you to reorder, when to check in with the GP and even when to take your medicine.

So how does it offer all of this for free? Cofounder Stephen Bourke explained to Techworld that Echo essentially works like a "Deliveroo for prescriptions", in that it takes a cut of the gross profit a pharmacy makes from the NHS drug tariffs it receives to distribute medicine.

Echo has raised a £8.8 million in funding since it was founded in 2015 and was selected for the TechCity UK Upscale programme in January 2017. The company is currently working with over 9,500 GP surgeries across England and is a proud member of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, a partnership between the NHS and England's leading universities.

Thriva

Thriva

Launched in 2015, Thriva sends out a finger-prick blood testing kit which monitors your baseline health and offers lifestyle advice to improve general wellness over time.

CEO Hamish Grierson realises the recent debacle of US startup Theranos over-promising what it could test for from a simple finger-prick test may have dented consumer trust in this area, but tells Techworld that Thriva does things differently.

"The first thing is that Theranos are and were trying to develop proprietary testing hardware, so machinery that analyses blood testing, and we are not doing that,” he said.

"For the reason, Theranos encountered around accuracy and trust we are using tried and tested and accepted lab capabilities that the NHS themselves use frequently.”

The baseline test tracks cholesterol, liver function, iron levels and vitamin D and costs £49 per test, with a recommendation to get tested every three months. The information is then put out to a network of GPs that provide commentary and lifestyle advice which is sent to the user on an online dashboard.

"Thriva is about empowering people to proactively manage their health and make better decisions as a consequence," said Grierson, who would like to expand the number of tests Thriva can run to include urine and DNA.

"We are creating a platform for internal testing. It doesn't really matter what type of biomarker you want to test for, we will make it easy and affordable and that's the plan."

Thriva is based in Holborn and has raised £7.5 million over three rounds of seed funding.

Andiamo

Andiamo

Andiamois a startup with an incredibly sad founding story. Naveed and Samiya Parvez came up with the idea following the death of their child Diamo - who had cerebral palsy - in 2012.

Diamo's death made the parents spot a gap in the market for tech-enabled orthotics, taking advantage of the lower barriers to entry for 3D printing to produce bespoke braces and orthotics for children.

Read next: Richard Branson's favourite 3D printing orthotic startup Andiamo talks tech in the NHS

The startup has got the attention of Sir Richard Branson and is in conversations with the NHS. However Parvez told Techworld in 2015: "There is not a lack of funding but a lack of imagination. Risk capital is going to iterations of the same ideas with minor tweaks."

Andiamo raised $500,000 in grant funding in January 2018 and has raised a total of £2.2 million as of February 2020.

iamYiam
iStock

iamYiam

IamYiamwas founded by former venture capitalist Lorena Puica after she developed a thyroid condition and wanted a more preventative approach to healthcare.

The service is centred on a saliva DNA test produced by Xcode, which is sent in the post. This tests for forty parameters and "enables us to understand how you process nutrients, respond to certain activities, any pre-disposition to diabetes or slow metabolism," says Puica.

The iamYiam algorithms then match the user to therapists and a personalised nutritional plan. Puica says she wants to do more machine learning work on the patient data they collect to improve the matching algorithms and better predict effective healthcare plans.

The startup is focusing on attracting corporate clients and has already raised an undisclosed amount of angel investment.

Vida
© Vida

Vida

Vidais a home care service which uses technology to match carers to patients and deliver personalised care programmes.

Users set up a care assessment through the Vida website and its algorithms align the patient's needs to carer skills. While personalised care plans vary depending on where you live and the level of support that you require, Vida’s website states that live-in care costs start from £895 a week.

Founder Naushard Jabir is a former mergers and acquisitions analyst turned entrepreneur that started Vida in May 2016. Vida already has a spot contract with the Kingston local authority and a spokesperson for the startup told Techworld: "We're speaking with a number of other local councils throughout London."

In March 2017, Vida raised €1 million (£890,000) in seed funding from Hambro Perks Ltd.

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