London, 12 May, 2014 Award-winning social impact fund Impact Ventures UK (IVUK) has invested in Buddy Enterprises Ltd, a social enterprise that was founded to provide a digital tool – Buddy App (Buddy)– to support therapy services in the fields of mental health and well-being.
Although initially launched in the NHS, its scope also lends itself to application in the private sector, employee wellbeing, coaching and the wider marketplace. NHS services working with the team at Buddy see the wider potential and have begun utilising Buddy to support military veterans, and in the fields of eating disorders, perinatal care, speech and language therapy, substance misuse, older adult care, dementia care and services for deaf people.
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem within the course of a year, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Buddy, a web application, which was launched in 2012, enables patients to use text messaging as the front end to collect data and keep a daily diary of what they are doing and how they are feeling, helping themselves and their clinicians to spot and reinforce positive behaviours and better manage their treatment plans.
Syed Abrar, Director of Buddy Enterprises Ltd, said, “We are excited to be able to draw on the vast expertise and networking opportunities that working with IVUK will bring, as we seek to continue to develop and grow our business. This is a significant investment for us – alongside a grant from Big Venture Challenge – that will enable us to add to our staff, in particular building out a dedicated business development team. We are already working with 10 NHS Trusts around the UK, and are focused not only on expanding this, but also on increasing the proportion of clinicians within those Trusts who use Buddy.”
Through Buddy, clinicians can set automatic text message reminders to patients, prompting them for insights on how they are feeling, based on a simple numeric scale, and in which activities they have been engaged that day. Traditional methods of capturing this type of information rely on patients having to keep a paper diary. With Buddy, patients respond via secure SMS and the information is captured on Buddy’s secure website. Individual patient records are accessible by clinicians treating them, and patients themselves can also view their own Buddy records, using a simple web browser. All information is encrypted and password-protected and cannot be edited, though patients may provide additional insights. Buddy also enables clinicians to manage patients’ appointment schedules and set automatic SMS appointment reminders.
Richard Brass, Head of UK Clients at Berenberg Private Banking and Founder of Impact Ventures UK, said, “Buddy is a collaborative and scalable tool, consistent with core themes of IVUK’s focus, capable of bringing tangible benefits to the delivery and outcome of mental health related services within the NHS – and beyond. Buddy is already demonstrating that it is working well with clinicians to improve patient engagement, reduce the occurrence of missed appointments and enhance service efficiencies. We are excited about the growth prospects for the company and the potential it has for creating sustainable social impact.”
Raf Goovaerts, Partner and Head of the UK investment team at LGT Impact Ventures, said, “We are impressed by the impact that Buddy is helping to create by fusing technology services and professional care. It is a simple idea yet a highly effective proposition with the potential to create significant social change and bring measureable savings to the NHS and individual clinicians, and enhanced outcomes for patients. We look forward to working with Syed and his team to support Buddy as it evolves and expands into other fields.”
IVUK was launched by LGT Impact Ventures in association with Berenberg with a £10million cornerstone investment from social investment bank Big Society Capital. IVUK’s diverse investor base includes UK and European institutional investors, asset owners and private clients, reflecting the appeal of the fund across different sources of capital. It is one of the first social impact funds to attract investment from a UK local authority pension fund. IVUK invests in enterprises that create strong, positive social impact for disadvantaged people and communities in the UK as well as generating a financial return.
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