French start-up Wefight announced that they have raised €1.8 million to accelerate the development of their virtual companion technology, which aims to combat loneliness in those with chronic diseases. Part of the funding has been raised through the EIT Health Investor Network.
Wefight's solution is called "Vik" – a virtual companion who answers patient questions related to their condition, treatment and care pathway, helping alleviate the isolation patients feel when dealing with a chronic condition by themselves. Vik has already been made available to patients living with breast cancer, depression, asthma and migraine, however patients with many other types of conditions are expected to benefit from the technology.
One third of adults in European Union member states are living with a chronic disease, and studies show feelings of loneliness are high in patients living with such conditions. (See OECD and Journal of Community Nursing.) Loneliness has a significant negative impact in chronic disease and can lead to poor disease management, depression, as well as higher and longer rates of hospital admissions. (See Open Psychol J).
“Loneliness in chronic disease is a significant concern as it has a huge impact on those living with such conditions; as well their families, health systems and society as a whole,” said Dr. Kurt Höller, Director of Business Creation at EIT Health. “Artificial intelligence has the potential to meet the needs of patients without adding further burden to already struggling health services, and we are proud to support Wefight in their ambitious vision for their technology. The EIT Health investor network connects European health-oriented investors with promising start-ups to encourage cross-border financing and co-investments.”
Accelerated by EIT Health's Investor Network
Wefight was created in 2017 by Benoît Brouard and Pierre Nectoux, who combined their knowledge of healthcare and technical expertise to create Vik. The Wefight team aims to make Vik usable by people with 30 more disease types by 2020. They will utilise the €1.8 million in new funding, raised in part through the EIT Health Investor Network to help them achieve their goal. Wefight investors who were brought in through the EIT Health Investor Network include Investir&+, Angels Santé, Business Angels des Grandes Écoles, and MELIES Business Angels.
The EIT Health Investor Network is a pan-European network that connects promising health start-ups with private and institutional investors for financing and co-investment. Through the Network, start-ups seeking early-stage private equity funding above €500 000 have the opportunity to be introduced to more than 35 early stage venture funds, family offices and institutional investors, as well as 800 private business angels. The Investor Network is now taking applications from interested healthcare start-ups. Click here to learn more about the EIT Health Investor Network and to apply for support.
"Our team is proud to have convinced investors who share our values – and who will bring their expertise to help us increase Vik's social impact," said Benoît Brouard, Co-Founder and Director of Wefight. “We wanted to meet the needs of patients and address caregivers’ needs. To achieve this, we included patient associations in the development of Vik from the very beginning. This allowed us to understand the daily concerns of patients and tailor Vik to their needs.”
This communication was first published 28 August 2019 by EIT Health.