London digital health startup Big Health scores $3.3 mln

Big Health said Monday that it has closed $3.3 million in Series A funding. The investors were Index Ventures and Forward Partners. Based in East London, Big Health is a provider of sleep improvement solutions.


London – 28th April, 2014: London-based digital health start-up, Big Health, announced a $3.3million Series A funding round from Index Ventures and Forward Partners today.
Founded by Peter Hames and Professor Colin Espie, University of Oxford, Big Health creates highly personalised, clinically-proven behavioural medicine programmes delivered via web and mobile. Using data collected from personal devices such as the Jawbone UP, these programmes are tailored to each individual user to provide optimised help at the right time.
Big Health’s first product is Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement programme clinically proven to help overcome even long term poor sleep. Insomnia affects an estimated 2bn people worldwide; it not only affects day-to-day functioning but also leads to proven long-term health consequences such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The estimated cost of insomnia to employers in the U.S. alone is some $63bn annually in lost productivity.
In the Sleepio programme, your virtual sleep expert The Prof teaches you proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques, personalised to your problems and progress. It is the only intervention of its kind to have been tested to the highest standards of clinical evidence in a placebo-group Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). The results show Sleepio to be comparable in effectiveness to face-to-face CBT, despite being fully automated.
The company is based in East London and will open an office in the US later this year. Today’s round is the first VC-funding for the company. Angel investors include Esther Dyson, Peter Read, Gi Fernando and Rob Taylor.
Peter Hames, co-founder and CEO of Big Health, said: “Five years ago I developed insomnia and, despite overwhelming evidence that CBT is the most effective treatment, all I could get from my GP was sleeping pills. Out of desperation I used a book written by Prof Colin Espie to self-administer a course of CBT – and within six weeks I was cured. This experience fired me up to find a better way. Billions of people worldwide are suffering from problems for which we have proven behavioural solutions, yet most people can’t access anything other than pills. By using tracked data and applying best practice from consumer technology, Big Health is making behavioural medicine accessible, affordable and usable – providing effective alternatives for those with problems such as insomnia and anxiety. We’re creating the next generation of digital healthcare.”
Neil Rimer, co-founder and partner at Index Ventures, added: “We’re on the brink of a far-reaching change in the way healthcare is accessed and delivered. By focusing on conditions that can are best treated with cognitive behavioural therapy and making CBT available to those who need it most, when they need it, Big Health has the opportunity to be a defining company in the field of digital health. We’re delighted to be working with Peter, Colin and the team and to support them in their mission.”
Nic Brisbourne, partner at Forward Partners, said: “The whole way that healthcare is delivered could change because of innovation in consumer technology. Big Health harnesses the power of data collection that personal devices such as phones and wearables provide. That’s makes what they do highly personalised to the user. When that’s combined with clinically proven programmes, the potential impact on consumer health is massive. We’re excited to be helping the Big Health team make that happen.”
For more information, please contact Jo White on +44 7957 424 686 or at [email protected]
About Big Health
Big Health delivers personalised behavioural medicine via web and mobile to the highest standards of clinical evidence. Its products include Sleepio, the digital sleep improvement programme clinically proven to help overcome even long-term poor sleep, without pills or potions.
About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a leading venture capital firm investing in technology and life science companies. From offices in Geneva, London and San Francisco, Index is dedicated to discovering and supporting the best entrepreneurial teams wherever they are looking to build market-defining, global businesses. Since its inception in 1996, Index Ventures has backed visionary entrepreneurs who have taken on incumbents and built seminal companies including MySQL, Virata, Skype, and Betfair. Its portfolio currently consists of more than 120 innovative companies based in 20 countries and 39 cities including Aegerion, asos, Climate Corp, Criteo, Dropbox, Etsy, Genmab, Just Eat, King, Hortonworks, MySQL, Nasty Gal, Pure Storage, Skype, SoundCloud, Sonos and Supercell — among many others.
About Forward Partners
Based in Hoxton, London, Forward Partners are a “startup catalyst”, combining investment with practical hands-on expertise and insight.
We’re investors in very early stage eCommerce companies. Our team have the experience to enable entrepreneurs to succeed. We do more than advise and mentor. We help the best entrepreneurs quickly find a great product-market fit with our expertise in customer discovery, coding, design, customer acquisition, testing and analysis as well as offering office space.
Companies invested in include: Hailo, Zopa, Wool and the Gang, Stylect, Makers Academy, DriftRock, Top10, SnapTrip, Loyalty Bay and Appear Here.


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