Data Driven Futures

Novartis names trio joining UK HealthTech accelerator

Written by Peter Walker

Novartis and O2’s innovation arm Wayra UK have revealed that Virtue, TestCard and ExSeed will join its nine-month Health Hub accelerator programme.

“After a rigorous judging day, I believe the innovations these three startups offer will make a significant difference to patients and the NHS,” said Novartis market access director Fiona Bride.

London-based startup Virtue’s LookBack digital therapy platform uses virtual reality to help those affected by dementia. Other solutions include Nia, a personal physical therapy coach to help people with arthritis manage their condition; Hiro, a personalised programme for heart disease prevention; and Evo, which aims to help women experiencing menopause and perimenopause through cognitive behavioural therapy.

ExSeed Health has developed a device that can be used to test sperm quality at home, connecting to a mobile app providing analysis and results. It has been available in Denmark since January, and it will be launched in the UK in April this year.

TestCard offers a non-invasive urine test kit embedded within a postcard, with an accompanying app that turns a mobile phone’s camera into a clinical grade scanner. In September last year, the startup announced that it had completed a £1.25 million seed financing round led by Neo Ventures for the launch of its solution.

“We are eager to work with Novartis to support clever entrepreneurs that will find the solutions that will help our loved ones and ourselves all live longer, healthier lives," said Gary Stewart, UK director at Wayra.

During the programme, Novartis will provide the startups with access to its network and support with NHS engagement. Wayra UK will offer mentoring, business development support and help to raise funds.

Wayra UK has reportedly raised more than $180 million through third-party investors for its startups, including lifestyle change programme Our Path and sleep app Pzizz.

Earlier this year, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock encouraged health tech startups to apply for the programme.