Accurx, the U.K. startup and Entrepreneur First alumni that has developed a messaging service for doctor surgeries, has raised £8.8 million in Series A funding, TechCrunch has learned.
According to multiple sources, London venture capital firm Atomico has led the round, with participation from LocalGlobe and EF. We first heard a term sheet had been put on the table as far back as mid-January, while it is thought the investment only closed last week.
I also understand the round was highly contested, potentially pushing up Accurx’s valuation. One source tells me that Accel was in the running but didn’t end up investing.
Both Atomico and Accurx declined to comment.
Co-founded by Jacob Haddad and Laurence Bargery, who met and subsequently founded the company at Entrepreneur First in 2016, Accurx initially set out to develop a data-set and tools to help tackle the problem of inappropriate use of antibiotics, which is a major contributor to the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics. Since then the startup has pivoted to focus on creating a broader communication platform to bring medical teams and patients closer together.
(Given Haddad and Bargery’s backgrounds, I dare say that the use of data and machine learning to help improve healthcare delivery is still very much front of mind for the company).
As it exists today, Accurx’s main product is Chain SMS, a messaging app for use by doctor surgeries to communicate with patients. It has been designed to support nurses, administration staff and practice managers etc., as well as GPs. Typical use-cases for Chain SMS includes sending advice to patients, notifying a patient of normal results, and reminding them to book appointments. All communication is saved back to a patient’s medical record to ensure a more joined up approach than might otherwise happen using arcane communication methods such as telephone calls and sending letters in the post.
(Somewhat related: this weekend, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for the use of pagers for communications within the NHS to be phased out by 2021. The outdated technology costs the U.K. taxpayer-funded health service £6.6m per year, apparently).
To that end — and no doubt not gone unnoticed by investors — I gather that Chain SMS is already in use by 20 percent of GP practices in England, from close to zero when it launched in February 2018. The conventional wisdom is that startups find it difficult to penetrate the NHS, when in practice this is starting to change, whilst GP surgeries, although funded through the NHS, are actually run as independent businesses so arguably easier to sell into.
A fun fact: A quick spelunking of Companies House records reveals that prominent Conservative Party politician and former Army officer Tom Tugendhat — who is also the current chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and tipped by some to be a possible future PM — is an early investor in Accurx.
Separately, I’m told that Wendy Tan White, the former EF General Partner who recently joined Alphabet’s X (formerly Google X) as Vice President, has also invested as part of this latest round. Meanwhile, I understand that recently recruited Principal Irina Haivas led on behalf of Atomico. Haivas is a former surgeon and former surgical fellow at Harvard Medical School (yes, you read that correctly!) and has previously worked at healthcare investor GHO Capital Partners.