Charity and think tank Future Care Capital has teamed up with RYSE Asset Management to launch a fund investing in innovative early-stage healthcare companies.
It has already funded an in house start-up e-learning platform for unpaid carers and an NHS prescriptions management app.
Andrew Whelan is founding chairman of Future Care Capital and director of Westcott Care.
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At a time when COVID-19 has thrust the health and care sectors into adopting innovation at pace and scale, what role can investors, entrepreneurs and charities play in maintaining this momentum?
Prior to the pandemic, early stage companies innovating in health and care were often frustrated by the overly-bureaucratic and risk-averse culture of the NHS and local authorities, which forced them to take innovation elsewhere to secure the traction and investment they needed at pace.
FCC’s Andrew Whelan
COVID-19 has changed that with an unprecedented level of adoption; NHS leaders are now asking providers to keep the transformation of their services to ‘digital by default’.
Take for example GP video consultations – a relatively straightforward technological way of maintaining patient contact that sits between in-person and telephone consultations, that has been pushed for years.
The NHS’ response to COVID-19 prompted mass adoption – over 99 per cent of GP practices have procured a video consultation provider – along with virtual clinical trials and apps to control chronic conditions, such as diabetes, being trialled.
I’m the founding chairman of charity and think tank – Future Care Capital – and I believe now is the time to invest for good in health and care.
This is why we have formed a unique collaboration with investment fund manager RYSE Asset Management to raise a venture capital fund which launched last month for innovations that transform and enhance care.
It is unusual for a charity to enter into this kind of partnership, but while we remain fully independent, we recognise the value of the expertise and broader perspective this brings to our cutting edge impact work.
The RYSE FCC Fund will engage institutional and qualified investors to provide a funding lifeline for early-stage companies whose innovations can solve the challenges facing the NHS and other health and care delivery systems, ultimately transforming outcomes and enhancing quality of life and wellbeing.
Why did we do it?
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Ash Kalraiya is founder of MediShout, a cloud-based platform that allows hospital workers to upload logistical information that is critical for urgent care through an app.
The right information is then sent to the person who can solve the problem fast.
‘As a doctor-driven UK digital health company, we are proud of our ability to respond to the needs on the frontline. During the pandemic it has been critical to ensure that the needs of patients affected by conditions other than COVID-19 continue to be met.
‘The strategic support RYSE, MedCity, and the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur programme provide, mean that we can devise creative solutions we know will best meet the needs of the NHS staff and patients.
‘RYSE’s funding has transformed our innovation into a reality that benefits patients and our crucial NHS staff.’
Because there has never been a more vital moment for entrepreneurs, investors, charities, the NHS, other commissioners and policymakers to come together to reimagine health and care.
Investors investing in this way creates a virtuous circle, enabling entrepreneurs’ ideas to be spread into the wider system to benefit all.
Right now, with digital health being embraced by health and care systems on an unprecedented scale, we have a huge opportunity for innovation to address the gaps and ensure the very best health and care is received by everyone.
For example, the rightly revered principles behind the NHS come into their own when tending to acute and trauma care needs, such as COVID-19.
But the needs of those with complex chronic conditions, such as a patient living with dementia, who receive care outside of hospital from multiple providers and funders, including local authorities and their own families, can fall between the cracks.
Innovations addressing the efficiency and efficacy of health and care for all patients, no matter where and who they receive care from, are there and can be unlocked rapidly.
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Asim Mirza is founder of Firza, a meditech business that offers GPs and doctors’ surgeries with a number of automated services to make their businesses run more smoothly.
He said: ‘As a pharmacist-driven UK digital health company, receiving funding and strategic support from RYSE was a critical step in our development.
‘We have been able to grow and have developed FRAIHA – the Firza robotic artificially intelligent healthcare assistant – to support GPs with prescription management.
This investment has impacted the thousands of patients who are prescribed regular medications and will continue to modernise UK primary care.’
Healthcare sector is in need of urgent care
Investors are keen to play their part, as demonstrated by RYSE’s current portfolio which includes companies delivering innovations in cancer screening, virtual consultations and smart medicine management solutions in GP surgeries and care homes.
As a charity funded through an endowment, we are in a privileged position to forge such partnerships.
At a time when a large number of charities are having to make incredibly tough decisions about their future, we are very aware of the responsibility we have to make our funds work harder than ever to deliver our charitable purpose.
Which is why I don’t believe profit for purpose should be a dirty word.
Have you got a healthcare business and need investment?
Find out more about how early-stage digital health and med tech companies can apply for investment from the RYSE FCC Fund.
In addition to the RYSE investment programme with MedCity and DigitalHealth, London, RYSE is keen to hear from digital health and med tech founders improving the delivery of health and care.
Much has been written on defining ‘investing for good’. In an age of COVID-19, investing for good must surely be about future-proofing the nation’s health and wellbeing in order to prosper?
Investing for good in health and care must follow the principle that the companies being invested in have to address a demand or resource issue.
This focus on efficacy and efficiency can free up resources and capacity in a burgeoning system, which can then be put to work in other areas where required.
Future Care Capital has already funded an in house start-up e-learning platform for unpaid carers and an NHS prescriptions management app.
This has resulted in people being supported in their caring roles, as well as making sure they can manage their own care effectively – of particular benefit during a pandemic – whilst simultaneously relieving pressure on the system to do this for them.
By modelling and demonstrating what works, we hope to break down further perceived barriers around collaborating across sectors.
I am confident we will find an equilibrium as we move out of the pandemic.
Creating a fit-for purpose health and care system will require imagination as to how we get there. Investors can play a huge role in delivering this vision.
Bringing social care up to date
Sam Hussain, chief exec, Log my Care
Sam Hussain, is chief executive at Log my Care, a software firm that has designed an easy-to-use app to help carers co-ordinate and design care plans easily and accurately.
He said: ‘As an early-stage digital health startup, receiving funding and support from RYSE was a crucial and significant step in our journey.
‘With it, we have been able to grow our team and take our technology to the next level.
‘The investment has impacted the thousands of carers who use our care management app every day and has accelerated our mission to digitalise and modernise the social care sector.
‘The health and social care innovation ecosystem that RYSE and FCC are building is powerful and we have already benefitted from it.’