Mercia EIS Funds

Mercia lends support to new Leeds-based Dotforge Health Accelerator

A specialist accelerator for health-focussed tech startups has been launched in Leeds by Dotforge.

The Dotforge Health + Data program is investing up to £20,000 into ten companies which use or create data for health applications and are developing products for use by doctors, clinicians, patients and carers.

Emma Cheshire, Managing Director, CEO and Co-Founder of Dotforge, said:

“We have successfully graduated three programmes during the last two years and we are delighted to expand our reach to offer an accelerator to help new entrepreneurs working on developing data driven applications for health.

“Leeds is the perfect place to run this accelerator, as the city is the epicentre for health data in the UK, being the home of the NHS national data resource and base for many of the key patient record providers for the UK.

“These companies service over 55 million GP patient records, as well as A&E and social services data management resources. This creates a rich ecosystem to support and sustain new companies and attract talented people to the area.

“At Dotforge we support talented startups with investment and mentoring, and we have teamed up with key players in the health arena to ensure the companies build connections in the sector.”

The accelerator will be delivered by Dotforge and brings together leading UK clinical software and services provider EMIS Health and specialist technology investor Mercia Fund Management, along with the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network and Creative England to offer a unique package of support for health focussed startups and early stage companies.

TechNorth is also sponsoring the program as part of its strategy to profile the health technology strengths of the North of England.

Claire Braithwaite of Tech North said:

“Accelerator programs are a crucially important component of tech ecosystems. In addition to the support they provide to the companies on the programme, they are a draw for investors, experts and customers, building critical mass and helping to build awareness of tech innovation in a region.

“The North of England has a globally competitive offering for health tech innovators and Tech North sees an opportunity to attract additional inward investment to the region in health tech. The Dotforge Health and Data programme supports this inward investment opportunity, providing a pathway to investment and a market in the UK for international health tech companies.”

Phil Webb, Chief Technology Officer, EMIS Health, said:

“As the UK’s leading provider of clinical software and services, EMIS Health is delighted to support this important initiative. It will allow us to extend the scope of our current partner programme, which brings innovative third party products to our customer base, to include work with earlier stage and smaller companies.

“We are excited about the opportunity to incubate new healthcare technology ideas and to integrate them with our own platform for the wider benefit of the NHS and, ultimately, patients.”

Kate Adam, Programme Manager for Business Investment at Creative England, said:

“There’s a real buzz around health tech at the moment, and partnering with Dotforge Health presents a great opportunity for us to help discover those untapped ideas which are ripe for business development.

“For us, Dotforge Health also works hand in hand with our Interactive Healthcare Programme, which we’ll be launching again later this year. It’s an exciting time for industry crossover and creative collaboration, which we are proud to be a part of.”

The use of data in health has been identified as a significant step change in the way healthcare is provided. Central to this is the shifting role of the patient, from passive to a more engaged role in managing and engaging in their health and well-being.

Peter Dines, Investment Director and Head of Life Sciences at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“With a growing number of public and private healthcare providers seeking options to improve service provision and lower costs, it is more critical than ever that digital start-ups are given the support they need to address this important need.”

The Dotforge team worked closely with the commissioning advisors and AHSN in Yorkshire and the Humber to identify the key areas of opportunity for data innovation.

Richard Stubbs, Commercial Director at the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) goes on to explain:

“The Dotforge Accelerator program will provide assistance to early stage companies developing products and services that are supporting health data analytics, self-monitoring and diagnostics and screening tools.

“Our support of the programme will help forge links between the companies and our members from the NHS, ensuring that the products and services being developed are aligned closely to the needs of commissioners.”

Companies developing their products in Leeds will benefit from a progressive joined up approach to health and social care lead by a partnership group that includes the local hospital trusts, GPs and social service providers.

Colin Mawhinney from Head of Health Innovation, Leeds Health Parnetships, goes on to explain:

“We are delighted to welcome Dotforge Health and Data to Leeds. The accelerator complements the significant work already undertaken to enhance care by sharing data and information through the Leeds Care Record and by establishing a city wide Test Bed. This is making a real difference to patient care – improving outcomes, experience and supporting patients to better look after themselves – while at the same time helping to transform our services.

“The companies attending the accelerator will benefit from our integrated Health & Social Care system and connections with the strong health informatics industry base here in the city.”

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