Digital Health Innovation : London’s HealthTech Power Brands Emerge

December 1, 2014

2014 is the year London firmly established its reputation as the FinTech capital of the world. Investor appetite for disruptive start-ups in the financial services market increased beyond Angel and Seed financing rounds to serious multi million dollar Series A and B investment rounds. Payments, money transfer and foreign exchange focused Tech companies are moving fast and positioning themselves as market leaders in multi billion dollar untapped markets with the potential for exponential growth.

Examples of Fin Tech’s market maturity include Richard Branson’s investment in Transferwise (1), DueDil’s $17M Series B financing round (2) and Gocardless’ $7M Series B round led by venture capital giants Balderton Capital and Accel Partners (3). It’s hard to think there could be even bigger, more lucrative and untapped markets than FinTech in London right? Wrong, let me introduce you to one of them, the world of HealthTech …

Health Tech or Digital Health depending on which side of the Atlantic you are based is also rapidly gaining attention from the “startup ecosystem” of entrepreneurs, government initiatives, corporate incubators, developers, designers, angel investors, venture capitalists and journalists in London.

In the last six months alone we have seen the launch of Med City by Boris Johnson, a new £50m “Challenge Fund” for GP services by David Cameron, health focused startup RotaGeek shortlisted for Wayra UK’s 2014 mentoring programme, NHS focused startup Healthberry beta launch to measure patient feedback, industry experts predicting the coming trends facing the medical and personal healthcare industries at the Wired Health 2014 Conference etc.. I could go on however by now I think you may have grasped the continuous level of activity happening every day, week and month in London.

HealthTech under the microscope

So why all the attention on HealthTech now? What is going on in London? In one word … innovation. Across London and the UK, hundreds of startups are working tirelessly to solve every day problems within the highly fragmented but lucrative healthcare industry. Innovation has the potential to generate massive rewards, the private healthcare market in the UK alone is worth an astonishing £25 Billion per annum, patients spend over £8 Billion a year on Dentistry in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and forecasts until 2017 show further growth.

Mainstream consumer brands like Moneysupermarket, Just Eat, uSwitch, Secret Escapes and Hailo have all successfully become industry leaders in multi billion pound markets by innovating the customer experience and focusing on solving day to day problems. I believe now is the perfect time for Health Tech industry leaders to emerge and grow into mainstream consumer brands.

The good news is I am not alone, a few weeks ago Lora Schellenberg wrote an excellent article for Huffington Post identifying London’s 7 Fast-Growing & Disruptive Health Tech Startups. … “For a nation whose National Health Service has become a model system for universal healthcare, it is no wonder the UK is an international hub for health technology.

The health tech movement in the UK is not concerned with creating the next “Yo” app or useless million dollar hype. Rather, it is focused on transforming the face of a distorted, behind-the-times industry.

A £100 billion industry in the UK alone, the costs of healthcare are only rising. Incorporating technology will be the answer to lowering costs and providing better quality of life for everyone. From battling sleep disorders to giving anyone real-time direct access to physicians, here are the fast-growing London startups that are contributing to changing the face of healthcare in the UK and beyond.” (4)

In addition to Lora’s article, Charmaine Li from Tech.EU wrote a highly insightful report entitled Health 2.0 in Europe – Here’s 35 startups to watch in June this year in which she said…. “It’s no surprise that the intersection of health, wellness and technology is becoming a popular space for entrepreneurs in Europe. From fertility-tracking apps to smart toothbrushes, startups are tackling all areas of the healthcare spectrum.

But as Frank Boermeester – partner of European health conference HealthStartup – outlined in a blog post, there are a number of challenges, specific to the region, that entrepreneurs in this space will undoubtedly face. Namely, the fragmentation of the market, shortage of entrepreneurs and lack of investment – nothing we haven’t heard before about the general startup scene in Europe, though. In an effort to track down the emerging digital health activity in Europe, we’ve compiled a list highlighting 30 companies that are, in our opinion, spearheading exciting developments in this scene. (5)

The most important statistic from her article is the fact that 8 of the 35 startups listed as part of the emerging digital health activity in Europe are based in London. 23% of all the innovation in healthcare is being nurtured with the M25, not in Berlin, Stockholm or Tel Aviv, but within our capital city.

To compliment Lora and Charlene’s articles and to further highlight the growing emergence of health tech leaders, the Europas 2014 included a Best Health Startup category for the first time in its history. 8 startups were shortlisted as follows for their innovative products & services – Big Health (Sleep.io), Clue App, Lifesum, mySugr, Teddytheguardian.com, Toothpick, Vint Training, Zesty.

“Founded in 2009 and still run today by Mike Butcher, The Europas are the premier awards for Europe’s hottest tech startups. While it concentrates on the newest companies on the scene, it also brings together the mid and late stage technology startups, as well as leading investors and media in the EMEA region. It’s a genuine, editorially-driven, independent awards, judged by peers from the startup and investor community.”

Of the 8 startups shortlisted, 4 are based in London. 50% of all the innovation in healthcare across Europe recognized by one of tech’s premier awards is taking place in our capital city.

London’s HealthTech Power Brands Emerge

Taking all of these shortlists into account, the large amount of press coverage, buzz and interest in HealthTech this year, it is fair to say “5 Health Tech Power Brands” have emerged as the first generation leaders of their industries based in London –

1)     Big Health – www.bighealth.com

Big Health delivers personalised behavioural medicine via web and mobile to the highest standards of clinical evidence. Its products include Sleepio, the digital sleep improvement programme clinically proven to help overcome even long-term poor sleep, without pills or potions.

The Sleepio programme is delivered via web and mobile. A virtual sleep expert, The Prof, guides the user through six interactive weekly sessions. These sessions are automatically personalised to each user based on data collected from wearable devices, entered during an initial screening questionnaire and a daily sleep diary. A range of online tools, a library of expert articles and an online community are incorporated into the programme.

2)     Babylon – www.babylonhealth.com

Babylon is an integrated digital healthcare system combining the latest advances in technology with modern medicine. It provides accessible and affordable GP and Specialist consultation, related diagnostics and health monitoring. With an easy appointment and records system, leading clinicians and a state of the art personal health monitoring capabilities, babylon is simply your own virtual health service in your pocket.

3)     Zesty – www.zesty.co.uk

At Zesty we’re on a mission to make booking healthcare appointments online an everyday reality. Zesty allows patients to find a healthcare provider near them, compare providers by reading real user reviews and book an actual, confirmed, appointment in under 60 seconds.  We currently offer our service within Greater London and work with private and NHS Dentists, private Doctors, private Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Podiatrists. We also offer appointments for both private and NHS sexual health checks.

Over the next year, we will roll out to major cities in the UK culminating in a nationwide service that’s the first of its kind. We’re also rapidly expanding the number and type of healthcare practices we work with; we’re working hard to offer healthcare appointments in over 20 specialties by the middle of 2015.

4)     TrialReach – www.trialreach.com

TrialReach is an innovative search business whose website helps patients with any medical condition to explore, understand and access information on clinical trials anywhere in the world.

TrialReach’s unique website combines a specialised search engine, exclusive patient-friendly information and fast communication channels between patients and physicians to make clinical trials easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to access.

5)     HealthUnlocked – www.healthunlocked.com

HealthUnlocked is the largest and fastest-growing social network for health in Europe and the first multilingual health network in the world (English, Spanish and Portuguese to date). 94% of our members say that HealthUnlocked has been “life changing” or “useful” for them.

People come to connect with others, learn about their health and manage day-to-day issues better. As well as a network of communities there are also patient-to-clinician applications in 50 UK hospitals (expanding to 100 hospitals in 2014) allowing online connection to clinicians. HealthUnlocked gets over 2.5m monthly visits and has over 200k registered members.

Consumerisation of Healthcare

Like many other industries before it, the Healthcare industry is going through a rapid “consumerisation” phase as more and more entrepreneurs find ways to better serve the needs of patients and solve the day to day operational problems of practices.

The evolving digital health ecosystem has many sectors, the most well funded and high profile being consumer engagement, patient reviews, wearable tech, big data & analytics, practice management software, electronic health records, sleep improvement and mobile apps.

Without doubt the “darling” of the digital health ecosystem today is Wearable Tech. From Apple to Samsung, Fitbt to Jawbone, technology companies are rapidly releasing health/wellness/fitness products into the market.

If wearable tech is a key part of the digital health ecosystem, can London stand up and be counted at the moment? The answer is unfortunately no, however my belief is we are 12 to 18 months away from seeing a disruptive wearable tech startup operating in London and delivering real change to people’s lives.

If I had to bet right now, I would say the opportunity lies for a London based startup to develop a wearable tech product within the “remote monitoring” field of medicine. A recent report by Berg Insight (8)  shows that 3 million patients around the world are connected to a remote monitoring device and monitored by a healthcare professional . In less than four years, Berg projects the number to increase to over 19 million. The report concludes the total remote patient monitoring market was worth $5.85 Billion in 2013 and is predicted to be worth €19.4 billion in 2018. So well worth the time and attention of entrepreneurs …

The Future for London

What is missing in London to grow into one of the leading Digital Health innovation hub’s in the world? Find out in our next blog post…

Team Zesty


1)     https://transferwise.com/blog/2014-06/sir-richard-branson-joins-our-mission-to-stamp-out-hidden-fees/

2)     http://startups.co.uk/company-financials-platform-duedil-raises-17m-funding/

3)     http://www.balderton.com/news/gocardless-raises-7m-from-balderton-capital-to-expand-development-team-596

4)     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fueled/londons-7-fast-growing–d_b_5845206.html

5)     http://tech.eu/features/1472/health-startup-europe/

6)     http://theeuropas.com/

7)     http://www.pwc.com/us/en/industry/entertainment-media/publications/consumer-intelligence-series/assets/PWC-CIS-Wearable-future.pdf

8)     http://www.berginsight.com/ReportPDF/ProductSheet/bi-mhealth6-ps.pdf




Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.