Could this EIS company unlock clinical automation?
Archived article: please remember tax and investment rules and circumstances can change over time. This article reflects our views at the time of publication.
In the world of investing, the more information you have, the better your chances of making good decisions. The same goes with health: timely knowledge is key.
Having clinical conversations – the most common form of healthcare – is crucial for this. However, the NHS is under a lot of pressure; in fact, the latest figures for October 2022 show a record high of almost 7.21 million people waiting for treatment. Current clinical staff do not have the capacity to address this backlog.
But what if some of the more routine but time-consuming tasks – from post-surgery questionnaires to scheduled check-ins – could be automated, freeing up healthcare staff’s time and reducing costs in the process?
This is where Ufonia, an EIS company backed by Octopus Ventures EIS Service, comes in. Find out below what the company does and how you could invest in similar companies.
What is Ufonia?
Ufonia has developed technology that can automate clinical-grade conversations and claims to be capable of replacing routine healthcare interactions. Through Artificial Intelligence (AI), it makes medical appointments more accessible. It benefits both doctors and patients by helping close the increasing supply and demand gap in healthcare services.
Ufonia can contact thousands of patients simultaneously at a pre-agreed time; and using AI, an automated and adaptive voice takes them through a series of questions and flags issues to healthcare professionals. Meanwhile, patients can talk to the system without new technology or skills, they just have a conversation over the phone.
This technology can be applicable to a range of medical pathways and is scalable globally. As an example, Ufonia is aiming to automate the process of doing regular check-ins with patients who have or have had certain conditions or surgeries – like those who recently experienced heart failure, had an operation, or people with chronic conditions like diabetes. Rather than having to schedule an appointment with medical professionals or filling in a questionnaire, Ufonia's system would call.
Four reasons why Octopus Ventures invested in Ufonia
Octopus Ventures, one of the UK’s leading venture capital teams best known for managing Octopus Titan VCT, invested in Ufonia through its Octopus Ventures EIS Service for four main reasons – note they expect early-stage companies like this to be high risk:
- The technology: Conversational AI is expected to grow rapidly and the automation market in clinical environments is already a multi-billion-pound industry.
- Patient benefits: Clinical trials have shown automated calling achieved high patient acceptability and the platform can be easily integrated with existing health systems, workflows and medical records.
- Company performance: Ufonia is already achieving significant traction within the NHS and there is a clear opportunity for it to grow nationally and expand into international markets, with interest from the US already.
- An exceptional founder: Nick de Pennington, the founder and CEO of Ufonia, is a neurosurgeon with more than a decade of experience serving in the frontlines. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and is particularly interested in digital systems. He knows first-hand the problem that Ufonia is addressing; in fact, he still works for the NHS as a neurosurgeon and has led multiple digital projects for the medical field.
Nick, the CEO, is an experienced neurosurgeon, and knows first-hand how clinical automation unlocks capacity across patient pathways. His credibility, and the fact that the product is already thriving in market, gave us a huge amount of confidence. This team could unlock clinical automation on a global scale.Kamran Adle, Principal at Octopus Ventures
Want to invest using EIS in companies similar to Ufonia?
Octopus Ventures EIS Service is currently open for investment. Aside from gaining exposure to similar companies (albeit not Ufonia itself), the Knowledge-Intensive structure of the fund could offer tax-planning advantages compared with traditional EIS investments: investors should be able to obtain tax relief in the year the fund closes (tax year 2022/23) and have the option to carry back to the 2021/22 tax year.
The fund employs the same investment strategy as Octopus Titan VCT (albeit with a sole focus on companies that qualify as Knowledge Intensive) and aims to invest in high-growth early-stage companies that develop innovative technologies and operate in large and fast-growing markets.
The team only considers investing in businesses it believes can deliver returns of 10x on the initial investment (although the target return is lower for follow-on investments). Note, whilst the target returns are high, these are high risk investments and investors should expect some failures.
Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – investments. You should base your investment decision on the offer documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. The information on this webpage is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy any of the investments mentioned, nor does it include any opinion as to the present or future value or price of these investments. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.
Octopus Ventures EIS Service
Learn more about the Octopus Ventures EIS Service – its manager, strategy, risks, what type of companies it invests in, the manager’s performance record, charges and our view.Read more and see how to apply online