Two sport and exercise scientists who established an app to improve employee wellbeing and performance have raised £800,000 from the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia, to fund the next stage of growth.
Dr Phill Bell and Dr Paul Smith will use the funds to further develop their platform, One Wellbeing, and expand their Gateshead-based company ART Health Solutions with the creation of 20 new jobs in the next two years.
One Wellbeing assesses employees’ cognitive performance by asking them to complete tasks on their smartphone, and their physical wellbeing by using data from their smart watch or fitness tracker. It also takes account of factors that might affect them such as the working environment and schedule.
The app then makes recommendations to employees on ways to enhance their wellbeing and performance, and provides data insights for employers on how to help them. Experience with current clients – which include pharmaceutical giant GSK, property agents JLL, office furniture specialists Haworth and consultants 4xi – has shown that its recommendations can help achieve significant savings.
Phill and Paul previously worked with sports stars such as Chris Froome, Rory McIlroy, Jensen Button and the England rugby team before moving into consultancy work with large corporates. The app was triggered by the need to develop remote tools during the pandemic rather than monitor employees on site. They have now developed it to become a standalone product.
Phill Bell, the company’s COO, said: “We’re delighted to have raised this capital injection which will act as a catalyst to scaling our business. Our scientific approach to workplace wellbeing, combined with pioneering AI technology, ensures our clients receive evidence-based feedback and insight that really drives efficiencies and optimises employee health. We’re looking forward to reaching more clients across the globe as we develop our proposition and are excited to have the support of Mercia on our journey!”
Thea Tebble of Mercia added: “Employers now recognise that proactively managing employee wellbeing can save costs by reducing absenteeism and turnover and improving productivity. However until now such programmes have been limited to larger corporates who can afford to have specialists on site.
“The One Wellbeing app enables smaller firms to introduce a similar service at modest cost. The funding will enable the team to further develop the product, expand take-up and bring the benefits to a much broader group of companies and employees.”
Lee Humble and John O’Sullivan from Tait Walker provided fundraising advice to ART.
Lee Humble added: “I’m delighted for Phill, Paul and their team following the successful capital raise. They have a fantastic offering which appeals to a global customer base and current circumstances will undoubtedly see increased demand. With a significant investment in hand we now have the opportunity to really push the business and I am excited to see what comes next for the team, after what has already been an exciting two years working together.”
Luke Philpott from Mincoffs provided legal advice to ART Health, while Oliver Rickett from Womble Bond Dickinson represented Mercia.