Health and medtech companies were always vital, but they emerged to be one of the most focused segments in 2020. This year, the spotlight is around medtech startups as we start our journey to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. UK-based healthtech startup Huma is now in the limelight for securing a notable £91.88 million in its latest funding round.
Bigwigs fund Huma
The current funding round for Huma was led by some well-known companies. Bayer’s Leaps and Hitachi Ventures led the Series C funding round for the company. Samsung Next, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, Unilever Ventures and HAT Technology & Innovation Fund, as well as individuals Nikesh Arora (former president of SoftBank) and Michael Diekmann (Chairman of Allianz) also invested in the company to become new shareholders.
Goldman Sachs International acted as lead placement agent to Huma while HSBC Bank pl and Nomura acted as joint placement agents, with the latter also becoming a new shareholder in the company. There’s also an additional £49.47 million that can be availed later as part of Series C funding round, and it takes the total financing raised to more than £140 million.
Speaking with UKTN, the startups’ CEO and founder, Dan Vahdat sheds more light on how the funding will be utilised. “Huma will primarily use the new funding for growth, and Research & Development. We want to keep developing and refining our ‘hospital at home’ and DCT technologies, and expand our library of biomarkers. Ultimately, we plan to expand into new geographies to reach the ultimate goal of impacting as many people on the planet as we can,” he notes.
Enabling proactive, predictive health
Huma is a medtech startup and it aims to transform healthcare and research globally. Its digital ‘hospital at home’ and decentralised clinical trial platform better enable patients, clinicians, researchers, and healthcare systems to keep tabs and be up to date on what’s happening. It use real-time health data from smartphones in order to do so.
Vahdat adds, “We bring the hospital and research laboratory to the home by giving people ways to collect and share their real-time, real-world data through their smartphones. Clinicians prescribe the app to patients who can then share measurements like heart rate, oxygen levels, movement and symptoms.”
Vahdat further explains that via Huma, Clinicians get access to a dashboard of all their patients. This dashboard enables them to flag any concerns, have a video call to find out more, change patients’ medication or bring them in for tests if needed. The same system is employed for participants to take part in clinical trials.
Digital biomarkers enabling better care and research
Huma makes use of something called Digital Phenotyping and digital biomarkers, which it extensively uses to enable its services. We learn more from Vahdat about what these biomarkers are. He explains, “A digital biomarker is a digital measure or a combination of digital measures captured through smartphones, wearables or other sensors.”
These digital measures enable valuable insights about a certain health outcome, and can be used to provide information on risk or susceptibility of a certain condition. They can also provide diagnostic or prognostic information to the patient and the clinician.
During the COVID pandemic, the company pivoted its efforts to help look after Covid-19 patients at home. Vahdat adds, “An NHSX report showed that we almost doubled clinical capacity and had a third lower readmission rates. Using the same system, we are now helping tackle hospital waiting lists and have already flagged ~10% patients as deteriorating, and as a result 1/3 have had their surgery brought forward.”
Since Huma gathers crucial data via its platform, it enables better research opportunities as well. It enables people to participate in clinical trials via their smartphones, reducing the need to make trips to a clinic or a hospital. This is said to result in quicker recruitment, quicker data collection, and more diverse participants for better data.
“In the UK only 56% of trials recruit the number of patients they wanted, 2015 data showed that globally 20% failed completely. But in 2020, in the US, Stanford Medicine and Bayer were expecting it would take 9 months to recruit patients and we helped them do it in one month,” Vahdat adds.
Founded in 2011 by Dan Vahdat and Rich Khatib, Huma has had an interesting journey till now. It currently employs 150 people and is actively recruiting new talent across the globe. As for the future of digital therapeutics, Vahdat believes it will be an exciting one.
“There is huge growing interest in digital biomarkers and therapeutics and teams all round the world are looking at new ways to spot, predict and treat disease and then help more people get the type of care that is usually restricted to the very wealthy. There are lots of digital biomarkers in development, and we will soon see them being clinically validated and moving to widespread, general use,” Vahdat concludes.