Two North West entrepreneurs are among winners of a European health tech funding competition.
Xploro, a digital therapeutics platform developed in Manchester, and Triple Tread®, a high performance tricycle manufacturer based in Congleton, were both winners in the final round of the European Institute of Technology’s (EIT) Health Headstart Awards.
Both organisations were among 13 winning start-ups from across the UK and Ireland after pitching their business ideas to an expert jury.
The awards of €50,000 are designed to help innovative health tech businesses overcome short term hurdles and strengthen their business profile.
Both organisations have received support from the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN). Health Innovation Manchester, the AHSN for Greater Manchester and responsible for accelerating proven innovation into Greater Manchester’s health and social care services at pace, has supported Xploro’s access to the healthcare market in the region.
Triple Tread have also been supported in their competition entry by Health Innovation Manchester and the Innovation Agency, the AHSN for the North West Coast and a partner in EIT Health.
Xploro, which was a spin-out of Manchester-based digital innovation agency Corporation Pop, is a digital therapeutics platform. The platform uses augmented reality, gameplay and artificial intelligence to deliver health information to young patients in a way that makes them feel engaged and informed while having fun at the same time.
Dom Raban, Xploro co-founder and CEO, said: “This award will allow us to do something that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do at this stage of our development: it opens up a massive new global marketplace to us. We’re using the funding to develop a Spanish language version of the Xploro app which is allowing us to engage with organisations not only in Spain but also in the United States and other countries worldwide.
“Our relationship with Health Innovation Manchester goes back to the first funding we ever received for Xploro, a grant of £20,000 which enabled us to do early user need testing. It was fundamentally important to gaining larger funding opportunities such as a grant of almost £500,000 through Innovate UK. We also engaged with the STEP INto Healthcare programme which helped us understand the health landscape in the UK.
“We’ll be launching Xploro to market in the autumn. We’re currently undertaking public trials at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and we’ve already engaged with health organisations in Spain through EIT.”
Triple Tread® is a patent protected trike designed to motivate regular physical activity, promoting social interaction and positive wellbeing for older people and those unable to balance on a two-wheel bicycle.
Mark Harrison, Triple Tread®, said: “It was a great pleasure to connect with some amazing innovative medical entrepreneurs and their cutting edge health technologies. Their own background stories and personal light-bulb moments were truly inspiring. The event presented the opportunity to share our story and the challenges faced starting a business whilst experiencing Multiple Sclerosis. The format allowed friendly peer advice and support.
“Funding success at the EIT Health Headstart programme will create European level kudos to our Triple Tread® project. The award will allow us to achieve our short-term development objectives, finalising our design and reducing our cost of goods before positioning for future investment or collaboration for manufacture and commercialisation. I look forward to an ongoing connection with the AHSN and EIT teams.”
Daniel Zamora, Commercial Programme Manager at Health Innovation Manchester, said: “We are delighted to see two innovative healthcare solutions secure support from the EIT Headstart Awards, which will help to strengthen their business and improve their future.
“Both Xploro and Triple Tread are products which could make a real difference to our citizens and we are excited to see them flourish in the heathcare system.
“We support SMEs from the region through several business support programmes and this allows them to become more competitive and win international awards. Consequently, innovative products get faster to market but also we also help developing our local economy which is a key determinant for good health.”
Lindsay Sharples of the Innovation Agency said: “The EIT Health Headstart Awards are forging mutually beneficial bonds between innovative entrepreneurs and healthcare providers across Europe. By helping pair cutting-edge solutions with health and care challenges and needs, the funding is enabling the delivery of world class services for patients.
“It is with pleasure that I congratulate Xploro and TripleTread on their achievements, which will enable two North West business to access international markets for their award-winning products. I look forward to seeing both business grow from strength to strength.”