Sidekick Health raises $55 million for digital first aid programs – TechCrunch
Digital therapy plus pills? Icelandic Sidekick Health has developed a playful digital healthcare platform designed to support healthcare outcomes by applying personalized behavioral nudges, including alongside clinical treatments like drugs, to augment, expand and sustain patient care for a range of chronic diseases and conditions from cancer to cardiovascular disease. health, diabetes and arthritis – a formula that has now earned it $55 million in Series B growth funding.
The new round is being led by London-based venture capital firm Novator Ventures, with participation from Wellington Partners, Asabys Partners and Frumtak Ventures, as well as a US-based strategic investor it doesn’t have. yet disclosed but will be revealed later. . The 2014-founded startup raised a Series A round of $20 million in 2020 from many of the same investors.
Upon the close of Series B, General Partner and Founder of Novator Ventures, Birgir Mar Ragnarsson, joins Sidekick’s Board of Directors.
Commenting in a statement, he said: “It has been impressive to watch the company’s rapid growth since closing its A-round 18 months ago. The company may have started in the Nordics, but I’m proud to say that Sidekick is now a globally recognized digital therapeutic player. Novator Ventures recognizes the immense opportunities presented by third generation therapies and Sidekick’s ability to scale and operate globally. We look forward to working closely with the Sidekick team to transform the way healthcare is delivered. »
Sidekick Health still doesn’t detail overall customer numbers (it’s a b2b digital health company, so it targets health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies), but says it has partnered with some of the biggest names in healthcare, such as America’s Anthem to offer “digital-first” skincare programs and global pharmaceutical giants Bayer and Pfizer, to develop what it describes as “an integrated combination therapy composed of a molecular drug and a digital therapeutic”.
The startup tells us that its platform has helped more than 40,000 patients worldwide so far, with its products currently available in six languages. Its main markets are Europe and the United States, while it has offices in the United States, Germany, Sweden and in its home market, Iceland. With the funding for growth, he says he’s predicted a big US push.
“Europe and the United States are our biggest markets right now, but we are forging partnerships in Asia,” he told TechCrunch. “But this is just the beginning, and we will focus on growing our US business footprint going forward.
“Sidekick will use the funding to support and expand our existing presence in the United States. Our North American strength and focus is exemplified by the recent additions of Pamela Stahl (CCO and President, North America) and Mitchell Mudra (COO) to the team. By 2026, an estimated one billion people will be served by some form of DTx [digital therapeutics] annually. Coupled with the fact that the United States spends a very high proportion of GDP on healthcare, the United States is a market where our products and services will achieve the best patient outcomes.
The startup tells TechCrunch it tripled its revenue in 2021, attributing the growth to a mix of existing and new business relationships. “This year, Sidekick plans to double our team from 120 to 240 members across our four offices,” he adds.
Pharmaceutical giants are interested in digital therapies not only as a scalable tool to (potentially) increase the effectiveness of their drugs with app-based support (e.g. putting digital tools in the hands of patients who can helping them remember to take pills and helping them in other ways, like making beneficial lifestyle changes around diet and exercise, or getting on-demand help for mental health issues or pain management, etc.), but as a way to extend the value of drugs – allowing pharma giants to file new patents linking existing drugs to digital therapeutic programs that are much cheaper and more easier to develop and iterate than expensive drug discovery and research activities.
“We are building a portfolio of over 40 medical-grade digital therapies by 2026,” Sidekick says, discussing its product roadmap. “Currently, 18 are in research and development, with a total of 14 commercial partnerships concluded to date, either with payers or with pharmaceutical partners, or, in some cases, both.”
“Sidekick has already commercialized digital therapeutics, in therapeutic areas ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and breast cancer,” he adds. “We will prioritize a substantial amount of our resources to expand our oncology portfolio, as well as invest in increased personalization, which will allow us to better serve people with multiple chronic conditions. »
With Series B funding in the bank, Sidekick also has more partnerships in the works – with three new collaborations to be announced in the coming months, including one focused on supporting breast cancer patients by helping patients manage side effects.
The startup has published a number of studies aimed at proving the effectiveness of its digital therapies – including examining the use of its platform to reduce stress and fatigue in patients with inflammatory bowel disease; or this small feasibility study on improving the management of patients with ulcerative colitis; and this small randomized controlled trial examining the use of his digital lifestyle program for the outpatient treatment of type 2 diabetes, to name a few – and he says it takes “the generation of evidence of scientific quality very seriously to ensure that we offer clinical companies a clinical-quality product for their patients”.
“The top 10 and 20 pharmaceutical companies and top 3 payers partner with us on their ‘future of the franchise’ assets, in areas such as oncology, metabolism, cardiovascular, immunology and immunotoxicology,” he adds, suggesting that its “rigidity of quality life science evidence and precision medicine approach is driving this.”