A company that has developed software to support the health and environmental benefits associated with a more active lifestyle and making positive choices around travel has secured a £120,000 loan to fund further technology development as well as additional marketing and operational activities.
Reading based BetterPoints has created a technology platform including a web portal and smartphone app to help drive behaviour change in two key areas: public health and sustainable/smart travel. Unlike many other health and fitness apps monitoring physical activity, BetterPoints offers a rich reward mix including real-world incentives, such as shopping vouchers for high street stores, to effect a shift in the behaviour of its users. Using a reward points system, BetterPoints encourages increased walking, running and cycling activity as well as car sharing and public transport use.
By teaming up with public and private organisations targeting health and travel behaviour campaigns such as local authorities, NHS trusts, corporates and health insurers, BetterPoints can create tailor-made programmes with measurable results for wide-ranging goals. Using its innovative behavioural change technology, the company has successfully delivered programmes which engage users and drive a sustainable change in activity as Dan Gipple, Betterpoints Founder and CEO, explains:
“The Birmingham Parks programme, developed for Birmingham City Council, produced some fantastic results which we were able to report clearly and confidently to the client. They included a 200% increase in average activity amongst regular app users and 80% of those tracked moving from an inactive to active status, as defined by Sport England. Alongside this we provided evidence that 50% of users were from the top 30% of health and income deprivation bands. Combining the available data the client estimated that if expanded city wide, the programme would save the local authority £13 million over a ten year period.”
It is estimated that the costs incurred across Europe due to inactivity is equivalent to over 6% of all European health spending, with this figure set to rise. This could be avoidable if individuals were to participate in an average 150 minutes per week of simple, inexpensive activities such as walking or cycling. Benefits of BetterPoints programmes include lower employee absenteeism rates, reduced health insurance claims, a decrease in GP visits and a reduction in carbon emissions.
The company’s next move is to integrate Machine Learning into its software architecture. This will enable an even more sophisticated offering to the client, allowing fast analysis of complex data on a very large scale. Crucially it will also enhance the personal user experience by automatically customising the offer, messaging and rewards as the system ‘learns’ from past behaviours. The £120,000 from Thames Valley Berkshire Expansion Loan Scheme, funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will help fund this development alongside the creation of resources to support expansion.
Ian Baker, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group which manages the loan scheme on behalf of the LEP, says: “there is growing worldwide demand from private health care providers, corporates and insurers for digital solutions that can move service users towards improved wellbeing through self-care. BetterPoints has already demonstrated its pan-European capabilities with successful programmes in Bologna, Italy and Wroclaw, Poland and is now well-positioned to capitalise on the global opportunities as it moves behavioural change interventions away from resource-heavy engagements and qualitative measures towards a fast, scalable, customisable digital solution with the ability to deliver meaningful quantitative results.”
The Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator is a £8.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP to support job creation and economic prosperity in Berkshire. The escalator, which includes four different loan schemes and a growth equity fund, provides eligible companies – from start-up to established – with loans and equity funding between £25,000 and £250,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.