Technologies enabling rapid and accessible personalized nutrition are stepping in to ease Europe’s health burden, where half of the population is overweight.
Helping to keep Type 2 diabetes in check, digital health company Oviva has raised US$80 million in series C funding to scale up its personalized nutrition platform across Europe.
The program combines individual coaching with an intuitive app, which helps users to overcome diet-related health challenges. For example, many Oviva users with existing Type 2 diabetes enter remission, reports the company, where they achieve blood glucose levels in the healthy range, equivalent to people without diabetes
“People can come off their diabetes medications and significantly reduce the long-term complications of Type 2 diabetes,” Lucy Jones, vice president clinical at Oviva, tells NutritionInsight.
“One in four of our users with Type 2 diabetes on our general behavior change programs achieve remission. Our specialized remission program achieves this in over 50 percent of users,” she adds.
Demand for devices
In tandem to burgeoning app-based programs, digital devices that can rapidly and easily read biomarkers are entering new markets. Sweden-based Deversify’s Acetrack ketone breathalyzer will be available in eight European countries following an agreement with RLVNT Distribution.
The Acetrack is a non-intrusive alternative to blood or urine measurements that helps people track metabolic health by showing them the effects of their lifestyle changes.
“Measuring your ketosis is much more helpful than counting kilos since this helps you trace more exactly which lifestyle changes that make you burn fat and not,” Anders Murman, CEO of Deversify, tells NutritionInsight.
“Are less carbohydrates, more sleep, less stress or more fats key to a better fat-burning rate? A bathroom scale cannot tell you that as easily, but Acetrack can help you figure it out.”
Acetrack is a product consisting of a breath sensor device and an app that runs on iOS and Android. In the app, users perform an exhaled breath sampling technique and review historical measurements.
Murman adds that the agreement with RLVNT is “without doubt Deversify’s biggest breakthrough” and means that Acetrack will reach thousands of new stores in a further six countries.
Accessible for all
Important to personalized nutrition’s viability in the marketplace is its accessibility, which is a core priority for Oviva. The company only hires certified coaches to ensure that its service is reimbursed and made accessible to a wider group of people.
The ability to be backed by insurance is also an important feature behind the FitNatal app in the US, which aims to help prevent gestational diabetes in pregnant women.
“At present, we collaborate with over 5,000 doctors and health insurers in Europe with Oviva offices in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and France,” says Jones.
Oviva works closely with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, which just announced a new scheme using soups and shakes in weight-loss plans to put Type 2 diabetes in remission.
In Germany and Switzerland, patients get referred by doctors, while in France, patients are either referred to Oviva via doctors or insurance companies. “The latter mainly focuses on prevention.”
The Oviva app has been certified as a medical device since November 2020.
A winning combination
The combination of an app with a personal coach is one of the key success factors of Oviva’s service, explains Jones.
“Our coaches empower their patients to manage their health successfully. They discuss realistic goals, help them adapt new habits and support them on their way to better health.”
At the same time, Oviva makes use of AI to detect types of food in the images the app users take. This can then display a suggestion to the user, facilitating ease of use.
“We have developed a next iteration of this feature which is being built into the product at the moment,” adds Jones.
Supporting the hybrid human-machine nutrition model, a study published last October found that digital tools complement, not compete with, conventional dietician practices.
Scaling up with new funding
To date, Oviva has helped over 200,000 people with diet-related challenges. Its latest funding hopes to bring this number of users into the millions across Europe.
This latest funding round brings the total amount raised by the company to US$115 million and builds on a year where Oviva more than doubled both the people treated and the revenue earned.
The latest funding round was co-led by Sofina and Temasek, alongside existing investors AlbionVC, Earlybird, Eight Roads Ventures, F-Prime Capital, MTIP and several angel investors.
“We see great potential in Oviva. Its solution is an example of how major healthcare and societal issues like diabetes can be addressed by the application of digital solutions, which is a topic our healthcare sector team has a strong conviction for,” says Harold Boël, CEO of Sofina.
Additionally, the amount raised in this most recent financing will be directed toward fostering Oviva’s presence in existing and new markets as well as looking at potential M&A opportunities to further grow the business.
Just a matter of time?
Murman of Deversify adds that the market for personalized nutrition is bound to increase extensively. This is due to a confluence of three factors:
First, there is a segment of consumers who possess strong purchasing power, who already spend a lot of resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle, he explains.
“Second, following the inability of the specialty- and primary care to adjust to individual needs, the market for consumers’ individualized nutrition has enormous potential when remedying lifestyle diseases and illnesses.”
Finally, research shows that heavily regulated markets, such as life science, are unable to achieve sustainable-oriented innovation. Yet, there are huge segments out there having needs not being met. Therefore there is a substantial pull factor from consumers and patients wanting to increase their health and well-being, he concludes.
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