A Reading company developing initiatives to get the inactive more active has secured a £175,000 investment from Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Growth Fund. The investment is part of a £900,000 funding round to support the overall growth of the business.
As levels of obesity, diabetes and depression continue to rise, promoting physical activity is becoming an ever more central part of public health strategy. Led by Dr William Bird, MBE, a committed conservationist and practising GP who has been working to combat inactivity for more than two decades, Intelligent Health increases the physical activity levels of a town or city by engaging the community in its Beat the Street award winning programmes.
Beat the Street smart cards and fobs are distributed via schools, libraries, leisure centres etc., which can then be used to join in outdoor activity as part of a community-wide game, run in conjunction with local councils and other organisations. Participants score points for themselves and their teams by tapping the card against Beat Box Sensors placed on lampposts across the area. By targeting a whole community at once and encouraging team competition e.g. within schools, Intelligent Health has achieved high numbers signing up to its programmes and can demonstrate real impact in terms of increased activity levels.
Dr Bird explains: “The motivation to engage in and continue with a programme like Beat the Street is greatly influenced by peer activity. In schools for example, even the least active members of the class often want to be involved if their peers are taking part, which is then carried into the home where parents, grandparents etc. are encouraged to join in. This has proved highly successful in getting the least active individuals from more deprived areas more active.”
Involving harder to reach families is an important target for public health agencies and a key benefit of Beat the Street. Intelligent Health focuses on helping its customers to not only engage these groups, but also keep them active for longer. After the initial Beat the Street programme has acted as a catalyst to get people moving, Intelligent Health supports community stakeholders in transport, health, education etc. in making relevant policy and strategy decisions to maintain active communities.
The latest funding round will be used to scale the team, further develop the technology and support the move into territories, initially Europe, to be followed by the US and Middle East.
Simon Labahn, Fund Executive at The FSE Group which manages TVB Growth Fund on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “We are thrilled to be part of this funding round which will accelerate the growth of Intelligent Health. The management team is highly experienced and dedicated to increasing physical activity and improving health on a mass scale. The company has good levels of repeat business and a strong pipeline within the UK, along with a number of successful programmes in Austria. They are now ready to take steps to expand this across Europe and we look forward to supporting them in this endeavour.”
TVB Growth Fund is part of Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, an £8.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP to support job creation and economic prosperity in Berkshire. The escalator, which also includes four separate loan schemes, 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.