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The health and wellness space saw significant developments in 2020. 

As governments committed to tackling the virus, health providers in every domain adopted a virtual or hybrid approach to care. 

With the pandemic impacting our mental and physical health, downloads of mental health apps and online fitness services skyrocketed, as private companies and startups raced to respond to the changing needs of their customers, and navigate the evolving landscape of restrictions.

Necessity is very much the mother of invention in startups, and 2020 forced an acceleration toward adoption of healthtech in the mainstream. We’ve never been more excited about what the future holds for health and wellness technologies.

Our campaign development team is constantly on the lookout for promising startups at every stage from seed to pre-IPO. We asked them to share their favourite businesses in Healthtech right now.

The pandemic has put holistic mental wellness into sharp focus as people around the world face lockdown isolation, anxiety and economic stressors. Unicorns Calm and Headspace have created a paradigm shift in mental health, powered by millions of users and the support of influential personalities such as Lebron James, who advocates strongly for the normalisation of mental fitness as well as physical.

This concept that our mental wellbeing should be a constant work in progress as part of a healthy lifestyle is the driving force behind London Based startup MindLabs, which identifies as the Peloton for mental wellness. Although yet to launch, the young startup picked up a heavyweight roster of early-stage funds and high profile angels in its Q4, 2020 funding round, including Passion Capital, Seedcamp, Alex Chesterman (think Zoopla, Lovefilm and Cazoo) and Jack Tang, of Seedrs portfolio company Urban. With a suite of impressive backers and a great mission, I’m excited to see MindLab’s mental wellness platform and community flourish and bring benefits to users everywhere.

Populations around the world are assuming a more proactive role in managing their health, and healthtech startups like Forth are taking advantage of the trend. Forth provides patients with at-home finger prick blood tests allowing them to track and analyse their body’s vital biomarkers, and unlock valuable insights into their wellbeing. During the pandemic, they also began carrying out coronavirus PCR and antibody tests. Backed by the Development Bank of Wales, Forth is now approaching another fundraising round led by leading UK institutions, in which retail investors will also be able to participate.

The digital health market is predicted to maintain its 28.5% compound annual growth over the next five years, and with the total value of the global digital health market sitting at £96.5B in 2020, startups like Forth have huge headroom to acquire market share. Since launch in 2017, Forth has consistently achieved 100% year on year revenue growth with over £2M sales*. I’m looking forward to tracking their growth story over the coming years.

Different bodies from different backgrounds have different needs, meaning a one-size-fits all approach to care doesn’t work. Not only are we seeing more founders from diverse backgrounds in this space, we’re watching them tackle some of the issues faced by underserved markets. For example, Noami Hirabayahi and Marah Lidey founded US-based wellness platform Shine because they didn’t see their communities (Japanese and African American) or their experiences, represented in mainstream wellness. Shine has raised $8.3M to date from investors including Eniac Ventures and Felix Capital.

One startup of interest from a diversity perspective is Alva, which aims to support and treat the 13 million women in the UK currently undergoing menopause. Founded by Annie Coleridge and Phil Efstathiou (both ex-Thriva), Alva provides free at-home consultation, treatments delivered to your doorstep, and a community that extends far beyond medication. While it’s still early days for Alva, after raising £1M in April 2020 from investors including Ascension Ventures and Jamjar, and with an estimated 12% of the entire global population suffering from menopause at any given time, this is certainly one to watch. The global femtech market is set to reach $60B by 2027, and there are a number of early-stage menopause startups in the UK looking to tap into it. I’ll be interested to see which players take the lead in menopause treatment and support.

Mental health is a hot topic right now. As people are stuck inside, it’s been harder and harder to stay positive and prevent anxiety taking over. In addition to the rise of mental health apps, we’re seeing the launch of more and more companies seeking to improve and protect existing NHS infrastructure.

One such business is Seedrs alumni Thalamos – the SaaS platform for psychiatric care – whose robust technology removes the burden of paperwork for practitioners and allows them to provide better care. The startup had a major breakthrough at the end of 2020 with the passing of legislation that digitised the Mental Health Act, enabling users to get more support quicker and more safely than ever before. As the digitalisation of wider healthcare continues it’s rapid advance in the NHS and across the UK, I expect we’ll be seeing plenty of important businesses facilitating this movement – especially in the mental health space – taking Thalamos’ lead.

*Based on unaudited management accounts.