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Una Health secures $2.5M to expand its battle against diabetes

Una Health's co-founders
Image credit: Una Health

Una Health, who offer an innovative approach to metabolic dysfunction management, have closed a $2.5 million seed round. The round was led by PeakBridge’s seed fund, FoodSparks, and FoodLabs. Other investors include mySugr founder, Frank Westermann, and ada Health founder Claire Novorol.

Berlin-based Una Health will use the funding to build on their success in the German market to expand into Europe and globally. Their co-founder and CEO, Pascal Grimm, answered TFN’s questions about the company and their plans.

Meeting a massive global challenge

Modern lifestyles have seen a massive increase in metabolic dysfunctions, like type 2 diabetes, which has been Una Health’s focus. Over three billion people are affected around the world, and that means three billion people have to live with increased risk of complications like heart disease, stroke, and blindness. But these are largely preventable. And that was what drove Grimm and his co-founders, Dominic Steele (CPO) and Dr Matthew Fenech (Chief Medical Officer) to found Una Health.

The founders all met virtually. “We all met online in the midst of the first wave of coronavirus,” Grimm explained. “We had all been working on different topics but connected over a shared interest in improving metabolic care and shared values of how to build a company to live up to this mission.”

They are now a team of ten. “We are a remote-first team, with the goal of enabling everyone to work from where they feel most comfortable and working with people independent of where they are,” Grimm told us. “Across the board, building an inclusive and diverse environment is one of our key aspects — we have a fairly equal gender balance, and seven nationalities in our team of ten people.”

The three founders’ experience meant they complemented each other almost perfectly. Grimm had previously worked as a consultant in the healthcare and consumer sectors. Steele’s background was in neuroscience, where he had been building healthtech products for people with type 2 diabetes. And Fenech’s work as a research doctor had made him realise that, for conditions like diabetes, a whole system approach was the most effective.

Taking a holistic approach to personalised healthcare

Una Health offers personalised digital therapy by combining biosensor technology with AI. It means their users benefit from real-time and tailored interventions from a product that is integrated into their daily life to maximise the effectiveness of the actions they take.

FoodSparks Managing Director, Yoni Glickman, highlighted the benefit, “their unique, data-driven and personalised digital therapeutics approach is set to transform diabetes management, aligning seamlessly with evolving healthcare reimbursement policies.”

Till Hoelzer, Principal of FoodLabs, said, “by leveraging AI and advanced biosensor technology, Una Health can tailor behavioural change programmes that can profoundly enhance patient outcomes.” Hoelzer also referenced Una Health’s recent DIGa certification, which saw Una Health become approved for full reimbursement in Germany’s insurance-based healthcare system. The first nutrition-focused application for type 2 diabetes to achieve this status, it means that Germans can now access Una Health without having to worry about out-of-pocket expenses.

However, the potential for Una Health is not just limited to diabetes. Its ability to operate in real-time and at a truly personal level means, it is likely users will see other benefits.

“Diabetes is complex, has many common risk factors and frequently people have several co-morbidities such as hypertension, obesity, or coronary heart disease. While our healthcare system is set up on International Classification of Disease codes, people are much more diverse and complex,” says Grimm. “To truly have an impact at scale, we need to build solutions that holistically support people in improving their health, and to support healthcare professionals to provide more effective care.” In other words, the best successes come from treating individuals, rather than their individual problems, and that’s what Una Health aims to do.

Grimm plans to use the seed funding to build on their success in the German market by expanding within Europe and globally. With EU medical device regulations meaning they can already deploy in most of Europe. Grimm also notes that, despite the diversity of healthcare systems, there are moves, from the EU down, to harmonise the use of digital solutions like Una Health.

And Grimm is ambitious about the difference Una Health can make. “Our vision is to reverse metabolic dysfunction,” he told us. “We envision a future where everyone has their unique profile, which will help to identify people at risk earlier, help in everyday life with decision-making to prevent conditions to manifest and make medicine and lifestyle change more precise. Precision is about increasing efficacy, reducing side effects and making lifestyle change much easier to do.”

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