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Press Release

Wayra UK and MSD’s Velocity Health targeting cancer and diabetes in their next wave of supporting tech start-ups to drive innovation in healthcare

Velocity Health
Posted on: 27 Sep 16

Up to £64K investment on offer to selected tech start-ups as part of a 10-month accelerator programme


SEPTEMBER 27, LONDON: Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd (MSD), a global healthcare company, and Wayra UK, part of Telefonica Open Future, open a second call for the digital start-up community to create radical solutions that reimagine how healthcare can be delivered to help improve delivery and patient outcomes.


For 2017, Velocity Health will launch two verticals to support start-ups developing technologies that support those living with lifelong health conditions. Living with and Beyond Cancer will help support people affected by cancer to self-manage their recovery, while Delivering on Diabetes will aim to improve the treatment and care received by people living with Type 2 Diabetes. By helping patients better manage their disease, they may have improved quality of life and potentially even a longer life. Additionally, helping people better manage their health is likely to have a positive impact on the sustainability of health and social care provision


In the UK, more than 2.7 million people are living with type 2 diabetes and a further 750,000 people are believed to have the symptoms but are yet to be diagnosed with the disease.[i]  More than 350,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but the good news is survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.[ii]


The Velocity Health accelerator launched in 2015 and invests in digital innovations that seek to address the challenges outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View, a strategy detailing how the NHS can improve patient outcomes, while closing a funding gap that is estimated at £30bn.[iii]


Putting technology in the hands of patients, to better enable patients to manage their own healthcare is at the forefront of NHS England’s technology innovation challenge with the Government promising to fast track digital excellence across the NHS including greater support for digital apps and wearable technology.


The programme’s inaugural focus was on early diagnosis and identifying new ways of preventing disease that are essential in responding to the health and economic challenges outlined.


A selected number of start-ups will be chosen to take up a 10-month accelerator programme where a network of mentors, coaches and investors will nurture the entrepreneurial talent and technological expertise of each business to enable the development of innovative products and services to help deliver savings and efficiencies to the healthcare system.


Up to a total of £64K will be offered in investment to each start-up which will include 50 per cent funds and the rest made up of dedicated acceleration services such as access to a network of mentors, coaches and investors. This will also include office space within Wayra UK’s new acceleration facility in Central London and potentially, access to Telefonica’s customer base (more than 300 million) and MSD’s networks locally and globally.


Louise Houson, managing director, MSD said: ‘MSD are excited to be working with Wayra to challenge experts in health and technology to provide us with solutions and radical rethinking to bring about substantial change in delivery and patient outcomes. We are looking forward to being part of a change to help people with diabetes and cancer better manage their conditions, which can hopefully have a positive impact on their quality of life. Additionally, we are committed to supporting innovation that is aligned with the NHS and the clear direction it has laid out in the Five Year Forward View.’


Rockwell Shah, CEO of Pzizz (2015/6 Velocity Health cohort), said: "The Velocity Health family has gone above and beyond to help us make our business successful. They've provided world class resources at our fingertips and have made countless important introductions that made a big impact on not only the growth of our company, but the scale we are able to impact the world."


Gary Stewart, Director at Wayra UK and Telefonica Open Future_, said: “What we’ve seen from MSD over the past year is a resolute commitment to innovation by scaling and globally expanding those next generation solutions that improve the way patient care is delivered and ultimately, go on to save lives. I’m certainly looking forward to welcoming the next batch of Velocity Health start-ups who’ll be given the same opportunities to grow, while enjoying unrivalled access to one of the world’s largest health companies, their partners and their people.”


The call for Velocity Health start-ups is now open via Applications for start-ups close 17th October.

Editor's Details

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 27/09/2016

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