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Female-founded healthtech raises £2M for eye health self-monitoring app


Females are constantly driving the future of healthtech and are making the best efforts to pull funding for the same. Recently juli, the AI-powered digital health platform raised $3.8 million in a seed funding round and now Bristol-based startup OKKO Health, a developer of eye health self-monitoring apps recently announced the close of a pre-seed round of £2 million to support the launch of its eye health monitoring app in Germany.

The round was led by Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures), based in Cologne, Germany, from its Digital Health Fund. Founded in 2018 by Dr Stephanie Campbell, the healthtech has developed a range of sight monitoring apps focussing on the monitoring of macular degeneration.

Macular disease is the leading cause of sight loss in developed nations. It affects over 1.5 million people in the UK alone. OKKO’s apps provide patients with the ability to self-monitor their condition through a simple interactive smartphone game. Played regularly, the game can inform clinicians, and patients, of changes in visual acuity, sensitivity to contrast, distortion, and colour vision. These data points become cues for clinical intervention.

The funding will support the creation of new aggregate datasets, providing opportunities to understand better how to target treatments for macular degeneration through the deployment of AI in the form of machine learning algorithms. The ultimate aim is to make precision ophthalmology a reality, and protect sight.

The company has created a CE-marked product, co-developed with support from Innovate UK and The Macular Society in the UK. The app has now undergone beta testing, has been validated through multiple academic and clinical studies, and is being piloted by several clinical partners in the UK. Its launch in Germany will enable the gathering of market evidence for national reimbursement, a novel aspect of the German healthcare system, through studies in hospitals & clinics.

Dr. Stephanie Campbell, Founder & CEO of OKKO Health said: “This funding will support an important foothold in the German healthcare market, a key step in our global growth. It brings us closer to our vision to get predictive eye health care into the hands of people worldwide, and protect our most valuable sense.”

Speaking of the funding, Fabian von Trotha from DvH Ventures said: “OKKO doesn’t simply replicate the eye chart on a smartphone, it’s a whole new way of measuring sight. And the team has shown excellent traction to date, partly testament to its clinical experience. OKKO’s founder, Dr. Stephanie Campbell, has both clinical and vision science expertise, and this gives her deep, first-hand, market understanding which is hugely valuable in the digital health space.”

Dr. Claire Novorol, Chair of the OKKO Board, who also holds the role Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Ada Health, added: “This funding round brings OKKO one step closer to our vision of patient enablement and precision ophthalmology. The platform enables proactive monitoring and optimal timing of medical interventions, such as the blockbuster anti-VEGF drugs. In many cases, pharmaceutical intervention can come too late for those with macular disease. By putting monitoring literally in the hands of the patients, the frequency of measurements can be dramatically increased, creating early warning signals for treatment.”

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