Founded in 2010, Chester-based Deepbridge launched its first EIS fund in the 2013/14 tax year, they specialise in providing venture capital to early-stage technology, life sciences and renewable energy companies. Deepbridge’s Life Sciences Fund aims to capitalise on the UK’s strength in the sector and the Government’s commitment to it.
The intention is to provide UK science and technology start-ups with private capital to supplement government grants. Investors can expect a portfolio of companies working on disruptive technology or scientific breakthroughs in biopharmaceuticals, biotechnology or medical technology with the potential to develop a new market or replace existing solutions in an established market.
In this feature we speak to founders and partners of four companies that exemplify Deepbridge’s commitment to investment in innovation and technology of the future.
GBI Magazine spoke to Ben Sweeney, Founder of Vidivet, to talk about his Start-Up journey, and how the Deepbridge Life Sciences EIS scheme influenced it.
Vidivet is an a-synchronised communication platform pairing vets and pet owners, a disruptive platform in the veterinary industry. The project has evolved since its founding in 2019.
Recognising this as a great idea, the complexity, capital and labour demand for it was far out of reach for any start-up. Sweeney explained that everyone who has founded a start-up has had a moment when they recognise an initial idea is not a finished product, and at that point you need to have the humility to turn around and realise your idea needs polishing.
Vidivet created an a-synchronised communication system, alleviating the labour demands necessary. Sweeney likens its functionality to using texts with communication through messages and voice notes on the app, with the option of a virtual face-to-face consultation offered, if required, further down the line.
Sweeney’s original concept was to service pet owners while alleviating the pressures on the veterinary industry. With around 3.2 million new pets in the UK over the last year the numbers in the veterinary industry have not increased at the same pace. They recognised that there were huge gaps in delivery of veterinary expertise that were adding to the pressure cooker of life in veterinary practice. By digitally enabling pet owners in a more efficient way than the early movers in veterinary telehealth and focusing specifically on triage, they could offer a veterinary version of NHS 111.
The demand from pet owners became ‘shockingly visible’ as Vidivet went live with a large adoption in out of hours contact, not surprising given most vet practices close at 7pm. Sweeney explains that around 92% of questions put through Vidivet can be triaged overnight and then redirected to vets if necessary, with a real reduction in both time and costs.
One of the key areas for growth going forward for Vidivet is as a business-to-business software which given the staffing issues across the profession will help to expand capacity within practices. Staffing issues in the veterinary sector are not however localised to the UK, in fact it has become a global pet healthcare issue. Noting this Sweeney adds ‘it takes 9 weeks to make 9 puppies, but it takes 5 years to train a vet and even longer to gain experience”.
Deepbridge’s Life Sciences Fund has allowed the Vidivet team to meet the scope of the problem, letting Sweeney and his team focus on further development and delivery. As Sweeney adds “Even hugely successful companies need to be constantly innovating, and when you have proper funding in place it enables you to do this thoroughly” Perhaps even more importantly the investment from the Deepbridge Life Science EIS fund has allowed Vidivet to ring-fence their talented workforce, and enabled them to recruit and hire additional staff members creating a solid foundation for future development and growth.