One of the major health concerns across the globe, diabetes is growing at a fast rate. This global epidemic impacting a large chunk of the population across the globe has affected over 60 million people in Europe alone. Accounting for 1% of the global economy (more than $1 trillion), over £10 billion per year is spent on treating diabetes and its complications in the UK alone.
While top companies such as Google have developed AI models that can detect diabetic retinopathy with a level of accuracy on par with human retinal specialists, there is a new generation of healthtech startups that have taken the lead in using technology to bridge the gap in managing diabetes.
As we marked World Diabetes Day on 14 November this year and with over 4.9 million people in the UK having this condition, it’s never been more important to address its prevalence, its future. According to a recent report, nearly 7% of Londoners have diabetes, with Harrow being the borough with the most prevalence at 10%. Hammersmith and Fulham have the lowest prevalence of this condition at 3.62%. When it comes to the number of people with the condition, Ealing has the highest rate at 32,605, with Richmond at the other end of the scale at 6,759.
This week we take a wider look to list a few startups that are using machine learning, cloud, artificial intelligence and emerging tech to bring about exceptional diabetes care in the UK.
Working hard to deliver a scaled digital intervention, London-based digital health startup Habitual provides digital prediabetes and type 2 diabetes remission programmes that help patients to reverse disease and live medication-free. The startup recently closed $2.3 million (nearly £1.7 million) in a seed funding round to fuel user growth, increase team size, and undertake clinical research trials.
Founded by Dr Ian Braithwaite and Napala Pratini in 2019, Habitual has completed a private beta with results in line with those observed in leading research trials. It ran a paid pilot for its 6-month long diet and behaviour change programmes. The startup helps patients to make lasting changes to their nutritional, physical and mental health, ultimately helping patients to stop taking medication and achieve remission of type 2 diabetes.
To manage glaucoma, myopia and diabetes, the Berkshire-based startup Occuity is developing revolutionary medical technology with £2.85M funding to monitor blood-sugar levels through a simple scan of the eye.
Founded in 2019 by Dr. Dan Daly and Dr Robin Taylor, the startup’s vision is to use the eye as a window into the health of the body. The UK-based medical technology company specialising in the research, design, and production of handheld non-contacting optical instruments for use in healthcare, diagnostics, and monitoring, has raised the largest medtech financing deal (£2.85 million) on leading crowdfunding platform, Seedrs.
The UK-based Oviva aims to help people on a larger scale to lead healthier lives. It is a digital health scaleup that provides diet and lifestyle coaching to people who deal with diet-related health challenges. Founded in 2014 by Kai Eberhardt, Manuel Baumann and Mark Jenkins, the platform aims to empower people to change their diet-related habits by combining individual coaching with an intuitive app and solely hiring certified dietitians. Their solution was to combine personal advice from a dietitian with a smart app that people use to record relevant information such as meals, physical activity, or weight.
To date, the business has helped over 200,000 people with diet-related challenges, has formed over 5,000 partnerships with health systems, insurers and doctors. The company has operations across Europe, including in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and France. The company recently secured £58M to expand its digital diabetes treatment across the UK.
Second Nature (earlier OurPath) combines advice from health experts with tracking technology via a smartphone app to help people build health habits and lose weight. The platform was the first ‘lifestyle change programme’ to be commissioned by the NHS for diabetes management.
Based in London’s Shepherds Bush, the startup founded in 2015 by Chris Edson and Mike Gibbs, former healthcare strategy consultants, who designed the programme provides people with personalised support in order to make lifestyle changes.
Headquartered in Cornwall, George Fry founded Neap whilst at Falmouth University’s venture studio (Launchpad) after working on ideas with the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust. Fry is using his own experience of living with Type 1 diabetes to help other people manage diabetes-related stress. He has created an app that offers people with diabetes stress-reduction techniques such as 1-2-1 therapy, weekly mindfulness sessions, self-care courses, the ability to journal their health and mood, as well as an online community.
Whilst there are other diabetes management apps, this is unusual as it links together mental health and diabetes. The company was founded in January 2021 and he has about 300 users at the moment.