Innovate UK Funding Awarded to Call-4-Help
Following the successful pilot in early 2020 at QE Hospital, the founding team knew that there was an opportunity to build on our early success and continue making improvements to the task management and communication app to make sure users were successfully onboarding and getting value.
Like any pre-revenue business, all funding options were considered including angel investment, crowdfunding, and bootstrapping (which essentially means that the founding team agrees to take responsibility to fund the company to get it to an agreed milestone).
When we were looking at which funding options were most viable, in September 2020, Innovate UK announced that they were investing up to £10 million to fund projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund, which was open to companies who needed urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.
As a start-up that already had users, we were confident that we almost certainly fell within the eligibility criteria. This was coupled with the changes that we knew from our medical colleagues were on the horizon. For example, many hospitals use outdated paper-based methods and pagers. Pagers, FAX machines, and their supporting hardware are getting increasingly rare, which makes maintenance both difficult and expensive. All these hardware issues are avoided with a task-based app like Call 4 Help. This is further supported by the Government requesting that NHS trusts phase-out pagers by the end of 2021 and in light of this, they have set up a £3 million procurement framework to allow Trusts to obtain modern communication tools like the Call 4 Help mobile app.
What is also a concern for NHS Trusts is the increased usage of apps like WhatsApp. There is recognition across the NHS, that although apps like WhatsApp are perceived as convenient, users must be encouraged to replace the likes of WhatsApp with secure, hospital-specific communications tools which are domain-specific and secure.
We knew we had an excellent business case, and although the competition was going to be stiff from lots of other UK businesses also doing innovative and impactful projects, we felt we could describe with conviction why we would benefit from the funding. I’m very pleased to say that we were one of the lucky applicants to get funded, which when you consider what a small percentage of projects are successful, provided further reassurance and validation to the team that we were on the right path.
We have now nearly ended the Innovate project phase, and have made tremendous progress by being able to have dedicated development resources working full-time on the project. Over the coming weeks, we will be launching the revised app into the app store where we will be encouraging all types of non-clinical and clinical staff within the NHS to use it so that we can start capturing feedback as we refine our future product roadmap.
Watch this space…!