Trail Blazers: The Startups Shaping The Future Of Health & Life Sciences
In the health and life sciences space, innovation is more than just a buzzword – it’s the force driving changes that have the power to impact lives. In this edition of Trail Blazers, we wanted to focus solely on this industry and the major players redefining healthcare and developing real breakthroughs.
Many of these businesses have outgrown the startup phase, but what sets them apart isn’t so much their longevity as it is the impact they’ve made. Join us as we unveil the stories of the scientists creating a healthier future for everyone.
Say hello to Birdie, a top B Corp-certified company transforming at-home care for the elderly. Having made a name for itself with its user-friendly tool and app, Birdie is backed by a number of investors including Sofina and OMERS Ventures. To date, the healthtech has raised an incredible total of £43 million – $30 million of which came in its Series B round in June 2022. As Birdie grows and innovates, it remains dedicated to improving the lives of the elderly with accessible and personalised at-home care solutions.
Cera is a leading provider of digital-first home healthcare, empowering people to lead better lives in the comfort of their own homes – led by co-founder Dr Ben Maruthappu MBE, the company grew revenue from £3.6 million in 2019 to £124.8 million in 2021. With over 50,000 patient appointments daily, Cera reached another significant milestone in August 2022: securing an impressive $320 million in funding from investors including Schroders Capital and Vanderbilt University. In October 2023, Cera pledged to deliver five million care visits throughout the winter – aiming to save the NHS £100 million and reduce hospital waiting times. Its steadfast dedication to patient-focused innovation positions the organisation as a strong force in digital healthcare.
Since 2014, CMR Surgical has been on a mission to revolutionise healthcare through the development of minimal access surgery (MAS). Its flagship product, Versius, is a compact and versatile robotic system transforming surgical procedures. With over 140 Versius systems in hospitals globally, CMR has been recognised for making MAS more accessible and affordable – its journey having been fuelled by partnerships with notable investors like SoftBank and China’s Tencent. Following the $600 million raised in 2021, CMR’s latest funding round of $165 million in September 2023 valued the Cambridge-based medtech at around $3 billion. The new capital will will drive ongoing innovation and enhance Versius, supporting the expansion of the system in new and existing locations.
Aptly dubbed “the TripAdvisor for healthcare”, Doctify was co-founded by Stephanie Eltz and Suman Saha – two seasoned trainee surgeons driven by their shared vision for improving patient experiences. Its online platform allows patients to review and select healthcare providers with confidence, giving them a voice when it comes to choosing their treatment. Recently, Doctify completed a landmark $10 million investment round led by Beringea. This funding will supercharge its international growth as well as product development, marketing, and recruitment.
Founded by visionary women’s health expert Tania Boler, Elvie is a health and lifestyle brand that’s set out to redefine women’s healthcare. As its core, the femtech focuses on creating smarter solutions for women’s essential health and lifestyle needs. Its standout product is an app-enabled Kegel trainer that offers quick and engaging pelvic floor workouts. In 2021, Elvie brought the world’s first wearable silent breast pump to market – seamlessly integrating it into women’s lives. In July 2021, the company closed a significant £58 million Series C funding round led by BGF, and sales more than doubled in two years – reaching £77.8 million in 2022. Earlier this year, it secured an eight-figure funding package from HSBC to support its international growth plans.
For almost a decade now, Healios has been providing digital mental health support for children, young people, and families affected by autism and ADHD. Emerging as a leading force in the healthcare industry, Healios raised £7 million in a Series A funding round in May 2021. Autism Impact Fund and Albion VC were among the names leading this significant investment – driving the company’s expansion and progress in digital mental health solutions. Healios’ commitment to their mission has generated impressive outcomes – with sales nearly doubling to £8 million in 2022. In November 2022, the ehealth platform generated an additional £14 million in funding, enabling it to widen its impact – especially with the enhancement of its US subsidiary, Meliora.
Huma, formerly known as Medopad, creates advanced software for remote patient monitoring. Working in collaboration with Google Cloud, the medtech leverages generative AI to enhance healthcare services. Huma’s modular platform facilitates the smooth running of virtual clinical trials, reshaping medical research as we know it. In fact, having been employed by over 3,000 hospitals and clinics, it has been estimated to have improved the lives of 31.5 million users. Despite recent challenges – including a business restructuring in August 2023 – the team remains dedicated, and investors including AstraZeneca (which contributed a staggering £25 million back in March 2022), Unilever Ventures, and Bayer are all confident in the Huma mission.
Next up is Numan, the brand founded with the goal of positively impacting men’s wellbeing. Its advanced online platform gives users direct access to medical experts, medications, and healthcare advice. Numan hit a major milestone in February 2022, securing a strong $60.1 million in Series B funding. This injection of funds – contributed by notable names including White Star Capital, Kreos Capital, and Novator – will enable the ehealth platform to make men’s healthcare more accessible while tackling taboos around sexual health too. Numan is more than just a company – it’s a force for positive change.
Since 2008, OrganOx has been a leader in organ transplantation that strives to address the shortage of donors. Its groundbreaking device has played a crucial role in over 2,500 liver transplants across Europe, the United States, and Australia. In July this year, it generated £25 million in a funding round spearheaded by Lauxera Capital Partners – a reflection of industry confidence in its work. This latest fundraise was viewed as “an important step in the direction of getting ready for a potential future IPO”. It will also support the Oxford-based company’s expansion – particularly in the United States, where OrganOx’s technology has garnered significant interest.
Ori Biotech is bringing innovation to the life sciences industry with its unique platform that improves and standardises cell and gene therapy manufacturing. Its technology simplifies the production process, enabling developers to bring their products to market more efficiently. Fuelled by its passion for new discoveries and a vision to accelerate life-changing therapies, Ori Biotech is set to leave a lasting impact on healthcare. It seems plenty of investors agree with us too – including Novalis LifeSciences, Puhua Capital, and Chimera Abu Dhabi – who contributed to a $100 million funding round in early 2022.
Everyone knows that a happier team is a more productive team – and no one knows this more than Peppy. Founded by Mridula Pore, Max Landry, and Evan Harris, the cutting-edge digital health app connects users with experts in overlooked healthcare areas like menopause and fertility. Its aim? To remove stigmas and empower individuals to better manage their health. Supported by top investors like AlbionVC and Kathaka, and recognised by big brands like Adobe and Disney, Peppy is undoubtedly leading the digital healthcare revolution. With headquarters in London and New York, Peppy’s recent $45 million Series B funding has positioned it for global growth – with a focus on introducing its platform to the US market.
With its up-to-the-minute medical imaging tools for the diagnosis of metabolic diseases and cancer, Perspectum excels in developing AI-driven software that captures detailed mapping data. Its technology facilitates the precise measurement of organ inflammation to aid accurate diagnoses and effectively monitor patients with chronic diseases for personalised healthcare. Sales almost doubled to £14.6 million in 2022 – and in March this year, the medtech completed its $55 million Series C funding round, with Oppenheimer among the investors recognising the potential of Perspectum’s groundbreaking approach. From its offices in the US, the UK, Portugal, and Singapore, Perspectum is pursuing a healthier and more informed future for all.
At the forefront of biotech innovation is Quell Therapeutics – the team developing advanced T-regulatory (Treg) therapies for serious health issues affecting the immune system. In November 2021, Quell closed a sizeable $156 million Series B funding round. This support has led to significant collaborations, including an agreement with AstraZeneca in June 2023. Under this partnership, Quell is developing, manufacturing, and commercialising Treg cell therapies for two autoimmune diseases. AstraZeneca’s commitment to this project includes an upfront cash and equity investment of $85 million. Quell also stands to receive over $2 billion in milestone payments for successful development and commercialisation – along with tiered royalties.
Workplace wellbeing platform Unmind is committed to raising mental health awareness globally. Partnered with industry titans like Uber, Disney, and British Airways, Unmind has become a trusted mental healthcare provider for over 2.5 million individuals – offering timely, tailored support. In May 2021, the ehealth platform completed a staggering $47 million Series B funding round, which propelled its international growth with offices in London, New York, and Sydney. In February this year, Unmind boosted its impact with its acquisition of Frankie Health – an Irish mental health platform. Heading towards a £100 million operation, Unmind recently welcomed key leaders to its C-suite, ready to guide the company through its next phase of growth.
Have you met ZOE? A genomics pioneer transforming personalised nutrition with data-driven solutions, this healthtech was founded to improve user health and wellbeing. It has rapidly become a key player in the industry – launching its first product in the United States in 2021 and securing an impressive $53 million in Series B funding in May of the same year. Since then, it has closed a £25 million funding round led by Balderton Capital in December 2022, as well as an additional £2 million from the Flight Fund (founded by Dragon’s Den star Steven Bartlett).
Lead the change with Capsule
In health and life sciences, having the courage to push boundaries is essential. As conditions evolve and patient needs change alongside them, emerging technologies are also advancing – enabling healthcare professionals to improve the standard of care for everyone.
If you’re a bold thinker looking to push boundaries, solve mysteries, and help people lead healthier lives, then let’s seize the opportunity to make a difference. At Capsule, we understand the unique challenges you face – and we’re here to safeguard your business against them with insurance that supports your every move. Get in touch with us today.