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GovStart Year in Review

In 2018, PUBLIC supported 21 companies through our GovStart accelerator programme. From closing huge funding rounds to game-changing pilots, here’s what our GovStart companies got up to in 2018 – from beginning to end.

 

January

2018 was off to an exciting start with Flynotes – a medical consent platform – closing a Seed Funding Round.

February

Red Sift, a cyber security startup stopping phishing attacks, signs a deal to protect Ministry of Justice email accounts.

March

Adzuna, a search engine that collates every job listing from every site, starts DWP’s Universal Jobmatch contract worth over £7.5m.

Nick Clegg joins Cera’s Advisory Board.

April

GovStart is featured in the Evening Standard!

May

Cera closes a huge $17M Series A Funding Round.

June

PUBLIC receives over 300 applications for GovStart 2018! 

July

Our GovStart 2018 cohort begins their six-month programme with PUBLIC – welcome Forward Health, FreeUp, Futr., GoodBox, Headlight AI, Accelerated Dynamics, Kraydel, Patchwork, Sentient Machines, Strawberry Energy, Valerann, and Yo-Da!

Novoville wins the the Mayor of the West Midlands’ Urban Challenge Award for Citizen Participation.

August

Strawberry Energy raises £300K through a Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign.

September

Forward Health raise $3.9M in seed funding.

Futr. secures a pilot with Northamptonshire Police to develop a chatbot that can automate responses for low risk, high volume police 101 calls.

October

PUBLIC partners with Accenture to help support new technologies transforming public services.

Valerann’s Smart Road System is live in the M1 – they also win awards at TechFest and South Summit!

GoodBox is chosen to be a finalist at Pitch@Palace.

 

November

Patchwork announces an exciting new partnership with the British Medical Journal.

Kraydel agrees a pilot with Brighton and Sussex NHS Trust.

 

December

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launches his winter homelessness campaign – using GoodBox technology.

So that was GovStart’s 2018 – what will 2019 look like? 

Want to keep up with our GovStart companies’ achievements throughout the year? Sign up to the PUBLIC newsletter here.

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The HealthTech 27: How Startups Can Transform the NHS

Rachel Guthartz introduces three of the HealthTech 27 companies – the list of the most promising companies across nine key areas of opportunity – exploring their potential impact on the NHS.

PUBLIC’s latest report The Promise of HealthTech, includes the first ever HealthTech 27 – a not so short list of the most promising companies in the HealthTech space. The list was compiled by outlining nine key NHS commissioning trends for the next few years, and mapping out the most exciting companies against those trends.
The prospective commissioning trends listed range from procurement and productivity to winter pressures and supported self-care; from prevention to recruitment and training; from patient safety to AI in pathology and radiology. Accordingly, the startups included in the HealthTech 27 are a diverse and exciting group.

See the full HealthTech 27 list here.

Looking at the HealthTech 27 startups in a little more depth reveals both the breadth and transformative potential of the UK’s current HealthTech ecosystem. Three startups – Echo, Kheiron Medical and OurPath – give an excellent sense of how the NHS can address a range of challenges by adopting innovative technological solutions.

Procurement & Productivity: Echo

Reforming procurement processes, prescriptions and data reporting can save Acute Trusts as much as £5bn of productivity savings. Echo, a free service that delivers medicines, reminds patients when and how to take them, and when a repeat prescription is needed, is a great example of startups with the potential to significantly increase productivity and reduce costs for the NHS.

Echo synchronises with patients’ existing NHS GP practices, working with fully accredited, UK-based NHS pharmacy partners to deliver prescription-related services. In addition to reducing last minute GP/A&E appointments, Echo also minimises prescription fraud, and enables better communication – for instance, by tracking and managing prescription errors and handling drug recalls seamlessly.

AI in Pathology & Radiology: Kheiron Medical

With radiology under huge pressure (8.5% of radiologist posts are vacant), and pathology in need of improved efficiencies, it is no wonder that they have been singled out as ripe for innovation. Kheiron Medical is a medical imaging company that has developed a computer-aided radiology diagnostics tool powered by machine learning. The tool will allow radiology departments, imaging centres and hospitals to improve the efficiency, consistency and accuracy of radiology reporting and tracking.

Not only will Kheiron Medical save time and cognitive workload for doctors, it will also save costs for hospitals, and improve patient outcomes through faster response times and higher accuracy rates.

Prevention: OurPath

The Promise of HealthTech: How Digital Innovators are Transforming the NHS

The rise in chronic conditions and co-morbidities is expected to cost the NHS £5bn a year in 2018 – the Five Year Forward View was clear that without a “radical upgrade in prevention and public health … we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable disease.” This is proving to be the case. Diabetes, for instance, affects 4.5 million people and its complications cost the NHS a tenth of its budget.

OurPath is a three month digital behavioural change programme that helps people to sustainably improve their health and wellbeing, helping to reduce people’s risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It includes structured educational content via web and mobile, wireless scales and activity tracker delivered to the door, and a health coach and support group to keep people on track. The average activity increase over the programme is 22%, the average amount of weight lost over six weeks and sustained over six months is 5.3kg with a 50% reduction of avoidable disease.
The HealthTech 27 is not intended as a comprehensive list – by drawing out the trends likely to dominate NHS commissioning in the coming years, The Promise of HealthTech seeks to guide aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startups. As Nicola Blackwood recommends, “startups would do well to focus, in the short-term at least, on the areas where the NHS is most open to change and new digital solutions.”

To be the first to hear about PUBLIC’s latest research, subscribe to the PUBLIC Newsletter.

Future of GovTech / Intelligence /
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How We Work With Startups

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Mark Lazar, PUBLIC’s Head of Platform, surveys the growing accelerator landscape, explaining the role GovStart plays in opening up the public sector to startups.
There are more organisations than ever helping startups grow.
In the last 5 years, there has been an explosion of ‘accelerators’, ‘incubators’, ‘startup labs’, ‘growth programmes’ and ‘maker spaces’. Both Techstars and Y-Combinator forged this path by accelerating over 1000 companies each. This success has spawned a huge number of programmes across the world. By last count, there are 179 in the UK alone. The market is saturated – and companies are increasingly playing with the traditional models in order to provide different support to startups.
Entrepreneur First, for example, puts an emphasis on bringing great founders together to form companies. SwiftScale introduces startups to C-level executives at corporates. 500 Startups’ Distro programme focuses on a single topic: ‘growth marketing’. Founders Factory builds companies in house and spins them out.

The public sector, however, has remained reasonably untouched. Despite it being the world’s biggest, most lucrative and most socially important market, startups have barely scratched the surface of public sector opportunities.

4 tips on how to communicate your GovTech idea.

The reason? Working with the public sector is very hard. Startups need to have a deep understanding of procurement and the public sector sales process. They need extremely strong networks – both at the decision-making level, and the execution level. They need a product that is applicable, able to integrate with legacy systems, and robust enough to comply with public sector data privacy, security and procurement regulations. They need help to identify public sector problems, opportunities and to build a viable route to market strategy. They need help executing that strategy through writing tender bids, pilot proposals and beyond. They need amplification across the public sector. They need help raising money to support these ambitions.

This is why the team at PUBLIC have built GovStart: a programme to provide all those things – to help great startups transform the public sector.

At PUBLIC, we believe that companies of all stages can be thinking about the public sector. We believe that pre-seed companies can build a public sector strategy into their first build, and that more mature companies should bid for public tenders. This is why GovStart is a stage agnostic programme. We support companies wherever they are in their lifecycle.

How did GovStart come about? Read Daniel Korski’s blog here.

Of course, pre-seed companies need very different support compared to companies at Series C. So, we commit to build a bespoke programme for every company we work with depending on their stage, public vertical, and priorities. We want to set joint goals, and support our companies to effectively meet them – not provide unnecessary ‘help’. As a result of this model, our previous GovStart cohort have succeeded in different ways.
Last year, Flynotes entered the programme as a single founder company, with an idea and some wireframes. Through GovStart, Flynotes developed its MVP, raised £550k in seed capital and developed partnerships with a number of major UK medical and dental providers.
 Adzuna, conversely, started working with PUBLIC with operations in several countries and millions of pounds in the bank. Thanks to GovStart, Adzuna was successfully awarded a  £2.5m p.a. contract with the Department for Works and Pensions to power Universal Jobmatch: the Government’s job board.
The public sector is vast. We have worked with companies that could be labelled as: FinTech, Cyber Security, HealthTech, HRTech, CivTech and beyond. We think of them as GovTech. This sector is just starting to open up to startups and there are so many opportunities for new technologies to make a huge impact on society.
Applications for the next round of GovStart shut on April 30th. If you are interested and would like to discuss how your company might work in the public sector, please get in touch.

Join us at The GovTechSummit in Paris on 12 November 2018 to bring entrepreneurs to the public sector!

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The Promise of HealthTech: How Digital Innovators are Transforming the NHS

PUBLIC introduces the UK’s HealthTech ecosystem, explaining the opportunities – and barriers – for innovators who want to work with the NHS.

Healthcare is facing the kind of transformation not seen since the discovery of antibiotics and anaesthetics. There is scarcely an area of medicine that will not be changed – and improved upon – by new technologies, as PUBLIC’s new report The Promise of HealthTech demonstrates.

You can already get consultations online, search for a GP on an app, and use your smartphone to monitor your own health. Chatbots are being deployed by the NHS in London and Liverpool to answer medical questions and triage patients. Scannable wristbands with medication and patient data, digital care records, and electronic observation charts are being trialled at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

PUBLIC’s new report, The Promise of HealthTech

In the future, much more will be digitised. The list of potential changes is long – from the use of VR in medical training to video games to treat ADHD and other neurological conditions including autism, depression, and traumatic brain injuries.
Perhaps most important – and with applications across all medical fields – are the advances in artificial intelligence and genomics. These will deliver more accurate diagnoses and design treatments suited to you as an individual.

A future awaits where medical information, gathered at the point of care or even at an earlier stage through apps, wearables, digestibles, home-based devices and sensors, is analysed using sophisticated machine algorithms to provide real-time, actionable analytics.The result of these innovations will be transformative for the health and well-being of millions of people.
To many, the list of new technologies will sound like science fiction. When I was Health Minister I was often asked if patients in places like the A&E department in Barrow-in-Furness or Hornsey Cottage Hospital – small rural hospitals far away from a technology-bustling place like Imperial College Hospital in London – would really benefit from digital change.

But many tech-driven startups are already beginning to demonstrate how they can offer patients better care, while at the same time delivering a service much more efficiently. And they are not confined to large cities such as London or Manchester.

Digitising Consent – an interview with Flynotes, HealthTech27 startup

Examples abound: Echo is helping patients get their prescriptions simply and with no upfront cost while, at the same time, nudging them to keep up with their treatment regime. Doctify has transformed the way that patients can find doctors and book appointments. In turn, Lantum helps hospitals find part-time staff like doctors and nurses, easing the all-important process of compliance checks.
Social care-focused Cera uses technology to help both carers and those cared for. And Flynotes is looking to digitise medical consent, such an important step as we move into a new era of well-regulated health data sharing.
These, and many other startups, offer more than just the opportunity to improve healthcare: they help to deliver efficiencies, improve self-management of chronic conditions, offer personalised treatments, and upgrade preventative measures. When properly integrated with effective digital infrastructure and data analytics, personalised care plans and clinical engagement, they are the best hope of meeting the extreme demographic, financial and popular pressures facing the NHS.

The good news is that nearly everyone – from the Health Secretary and the NHS England Chief Executive to surgeons, GPs, and nurses on the frontline – agrees that new technologies are essential for the NHS.

Critically, too, the HealthTech market is finally beginning to deliver the breadth and quality of companies required. There is a real and growing opportunity for digital health companies to start up and scale in the UK. The UK market size was £2 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to £2.9 billion this year.
Interestingly, there is a real similarly of outlook on both the demand and supply side: people are primarily motivated by a vision of delivering better care, more affordably. Everyone wants to save the NHS. Indeed, many HealthTech startups are either founded, backed or supported by medical professionals.

That is the good news.

But the bad news is that a number of barriers exist that inhibit the take-up – and especially the scale-up – of new technologies across the NHS. Despite often compelling clinical and financial evidence, few of the startups working in the NHS today have achieved real, systemic uptake. The cost-effectiveness of new technologies has yet to be universally accepted. Past failures provide ample ammunition for sceptics. Officials fear legal challenges from incumbents if they choose new solutions. Everyone wants to play it safe.

There is no way other way to put this: the NHS is digitally risk-averse.

That is not to say that NHS staff are technophobes, and there are some outstanding examples of good practice across the country. But taken as a whole, there is a collective failure of the organisation to provide the requisite opportunities to scale new technologies.

This risk aversion is evident in decision-making processes and procurement systems, as well as in attitudes which combine to block innovation and to limit pilots, even if few are consciously opposed or deliberately obstructive.
I set out to understand these barriers in detail in conducting research for The Promise of HealthTech. From my time as Health Minister I had a particular vantage point. But I wanted to understand what the NHS looks and feels like from the innovators’ perspective.

The report identifies the HealthTech27, the most promising startups in the HealthTech space

To this end, we conducted the largest ever survey of British HealthTech startups, querying hundreds of digital health companies, as well as interviewing NHS professionals and key decision-makers across the health and care landscape.
From this, we identified the six areas where reforms are most needed: how the NHS requires evidence and evaluates new products; how it then regulates new products; how it procures new solutions; how it enables new purchases to operate across the system; how it ensures the highest standards of data security; and how it recruits and trains a workforce that can understand, adopt and help scale new technologies nationally. Reforms need to start here.

The Promise of HealthTech also seeks to help startups to succeed in the NHS; it is a report to founders, CEOs and innovators. It is meant to help them, to provide a sort of NHS user manual. And we also shine a spotlight on the HealthTech27 – our list of the most promising companies across nine areas of key opportunity in the coming years.
The UK faces an optimal situation. We are approaching a true inflection point. The NHS needs digital transformation. Its leadership wants it, as do its patients. Now the market can finally provide it.

To keep up to date with PUBLIC’s latest research, sign up to the PUBLIC Newsletter.

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From Public Servant to Startup Founder

PUBLIC’s Rachel Guthartz speaks to three tech startup founders who made the transition from the public sector, exploring what inspired them to make the move, and what advice they have for aspiring startup founders.

As a new member of the PUBLIC team, with a background working with NGOs, I was curious about other people who have made the transition into the world of tech startups. A high proportion of companies in both the 2017 GovStart cohort and PUBLIC’s wider portfolio have been started by former public servants. Given that beginning a startup is notoriously challenging, what sparks public servants into making the move?

I spoke to three GovTech founders who previously worked full-time in the public sector—Ben Maruthappu (CEO, Cera), Kate Glazebrook (CEO, Applied) & Govin Murugachandran (CEO, Flynotes)—to see what inspired them to start their own companies. A number of key themes quickly became clear …

Identifying Problems and Solutions

Each of the founders I spoke to developed their idea in direct response to their experiences in the public sector: whether it be the challenges they encountered, or a heightened awareness of policy-making priorities.

Read our interview about Flynotes ‘Digitising Consent’ here.

Govin Murugachandran, a maxillofacial surgeon, came up with the idea for Flynotes (a digital consent platform for the health sector), after routinely facing the inefficiencies and limitations of a paper-based consenting process currently used by the NHS—a process that, due to its largely inherent inaccuracies, has resulted in a sharp increase in litigation cases against the NHS in recent years.
For Ben Maruthappu, co-founder of Cera (a technology-enabled quality home care service), the possibilities of technology became clear during his time advising Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England: “I saw the opportunities that technology had to improve services while reducing costs […] Given the challenges on the health and care sector, I thought it was important to seize that opportunity and act on it”.

Kate Glazebrook, co-founder of Applied (a recruitment platform which focuses on fair hiring), was part of the the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) when she pitched her idea for Applied to BIT’s venture arm. Her research and professional experience—a former researcher at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Policy Officer in the Australian government—were crucial in increasing her awareness of the public sector priorities which make Applied so pertinent: diversity in the workplace, equality of opportunity, and fair hiring practices.

Public sector experience, then, can serve as a significant advantage in identifying key challenges that need solving. Ben, of Cera, emphasised this point flagging the thousands of companies and technologies that aren’t addressing real public sector problems: “Being able to draw from my public sector experiences, allows me to develop a much better solution”.

The Startup Founder/ Public Servant Overlap

Read our interview with Applied ‘The Future of Recruitment’ here.

The founders were quick to note how their experience in the public sector was also an advantage in developing the skills fundamental to building a startup. The process of identifying a problem and fixing it was hardwired into Govin as a doctor: “In medicine you’re always encouraged to do audits, and to look into how to improve things”. For him it was intuitive to be proactive and figure out how to fix the problem of consent once he encountered it.
Kate pointed out another similarity between public servants and startup founders: both have a level of audacity in their unyielding commitment to their ideas and projects. This commitment is necessary to enable them to push these ideas forward relentlessly despite obstacles and pushback. Both Govin and Kate articulated a shared resilience and perseverance between public servants and startup founders.

Nothing Prepares You to Start a Startup Like Starting a Startup

And yet, in spite of overlaps with the public sector, building a startup is categorically different.

“Startups have a lot of volatility—things are always changing. You’re continuously improving the direction that the company is travelling in because it’s so small and agile.” — Ben Maruthappu

Imagine combining the speed at which startups change and develop with the necessity to build every aspect of a business from scratch and you might get a sense of the unique challenge of founding a startup.
“None of my previous jobs prepared me for 90% of the work involved in building a startup”, Kate explained.
Each of the founders mentioned the extensive list of activities you have to be involved in as a founder—from office location and operations, to recruitment, marketing, fundraising, partnerships, and technology.
But rather than dwelling on the obstacles, mishaps and setbacks—and I’m sure they encountered a few—they framed their experiences in terms of progress and development.

As Govin noted, “it’s been one of the greatest learning experiences for me. I’ve picked up skills that I never had as a doctor or dentist.”

In the public sector, the majority of civil servants work within a variety of predetermined parameters, with structures to support and guide them. In startups, however “parameters are far more variable or even unknown which makes it far more difficult to deliver—and far more exciting” (Ben).

A Risk Worth Taking

When I asked them whether they’d encourage other public sector workers to make the leap, they were emphatic in their response:
“Do it. You’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you give it a shot. There’s no recipe for making a successful business except for doing it.” (Govin)
“Definitely do it. Going into a startup can be perceived as risky, but it’s a risk worth taking.” (Ben)
“Sometimes the key to achieving social impact comes in unexpected places. Be led by the passion not the method and you’ll always find it rewarding.” (Kate)
The consensus was clear: If you’re passionate about improving public services and have an idea of how to tackle a public sector challenge, it’s worth pursuing your idea and trying to meeting the challenge head on.
A parting word from Govin: “The revolution in public services is going to be through these people”. That means you.
Applications for GovStart are open – click here to find out more and to apply.

Future of GovTech / Intelligence /
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The Birth of GovStart: Come Write the Next Chapter

Daniel Korski, PUBLIC’s CEO and co-founder, tells the story of PUBLIC, and of its growth programme GovStart’s conception.

One moment I was walking through the famous black door at No. 10 Downing Street, one of the Prime Minister’s close advisers; the next I was being expedited out through the backdoor, having watched David Cameron’s resignation speech, and then followed him into the ignominy of unemployment.

I walked down Whitehall, wondering what to do next? Should I continue in politics, for example offering my services to one of the campaigns for the next Tory leadership? Or should I throw myself into the post-referendum debates that would help determine what the vote – and Brexit – actually meant? There were, thankfully, plenty of commercial offers. My phone had been filling up with text messages from people I had worked with in the City, offering lunches, coffee and jobs.

Daniel’s article in Politico: Why we lost the Brexit vote

As I reached Trafalgar Square, I had resolved to do two things.
First, I had to write a searingly honest account of why we lost the EU referendum. I felt I owed my perspective to future generations who would ask what had happened. And I knew that I would inevitably forget details and probably embellish events if I tried to write anything in the future. I also needed it to achieve catharsis; to move on. The article, which was one of the first accounts of the run-up to and details of the referendum, is still one of the most downloaded on the Politico website.

The second thing I decided was to devote the next couple of years to ensure the extraordinary technology-enabled transformation I had seen in sectors like financial services, retail and consumer goods, would also benefit the public sector.
I have been passionate about public service all my life. While I have enjoyed stints in the private sector, I always yearned to return to public service, to solve problems for the many. Through work in London, Brussels, Washington, but also Kabul, Sarajevo and Basra, I have sought to deliver better public services, working on issues as broad-ranging as sanitation, energy, trade, and sanctions, as well as military and intelligence reform.

In my time in No. 10, and through conversations with the likes of Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Sheryl Sandberg, I had come to understand how the collapsing price of technology and the dissemination of know-how could help solve the most difficult problems.

In Government, we had set up the Government Digital Service, created Innovate UK, built the Open Data Partnership, launched the G Cloud, and supported industries like FinTech, AI, and genomics. Far-sighted predecessors and colleagues like Rohan Silva, Tim Luke, Jonathan Luff and Joanna Shields had backed the British tech industry, from its early beginning around Shoreditch.

But despite this there was still no pipeline of product-led startups that were looking to use their cutting-edge technology to transform public services.

Investors were reluctant to back companies that were focused on the public sector. And Government – ministers as well as officials – were not really grasping the opportunity before them, and were therefore not making it easier for new companies to compete for contracts.

That is what gave birth to PUBLIC and its GovStart accelerator programme. A belief that with a bit of external help – especially the triptych of insight, access and capital – technology startups could help deliver better, smarter and cheaper public services.  

And a conviction that if we got it right we would help the UK and Europe position themselves at the forefront of an important digital trend. Perhaps even, in a small way, help overcome some of the challenges of Brexit.

There were, of course, many steps between then and now.
Backers like Robin and Saul Klein, Brent Hoberman, Jon and Spencer Moulton, Stefan Glaenzer, Jonathan Marland, and Ned Cranborne, and many others, were key to getting the project off the ground. So were early collaborators like Eileen Burbidge, and supporters like Emma Jones.

Alexander de Carvalho joined as my co-founder and added commercial rigour and digital know-how to PUBLIC’s operation. Mark Lazar designed the GovStart programme from scratch, even though he had sworn, following a few years at Techstars, that he would never run another accelerator programme. Caroline Makepeace built the wiring of the organization and Edward Elliot made us known far and wide. Our PwC secondee Bhavin Kotecha brought much-needed financial modelling to our business.

PUBLIC’s latest report: The Rise of UrbanTech

Mentors like Bill Crothers, Theo Blackwell, Matthew Trimming, Ruth O’Neale, James Stewart, James Steventon, and Stephen Heidukewitsch, provided expert advice. We have since been joined by my former colleague from No. 10, Max Chambers, and Andy Richardson, the former VP of Technology at Thomson Reuters, who is our CTO.

As we looked to set up PUBLIC I traveled to the US and across Europe to look at different models and see how best to build the premier GovTech ecosystem. I was particularly impressed by Civic Hall and BetaWorks in New York, Brent Hoberman’s Founders Factory, The Family in Paris and Matt Truman’s TrueStart. I took the best from these and sought to adapt their advice to the particularities of the public sector. Corporate partners like AWS, Mishcon de Reya, and PwC helped further.
Perhaps most importantly, was the response from the public sector. From No. 10 and HMT, Secretaries of State and junior ministers, from the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, and Civil Service CEO John Manzoni, to GDS chief Kevin Cunnington, as well as PermSecs in many departments, there was nothing but support for what we wanted to do and achieve.

Today, as we open the door again for applications to the GovStart programme, we believe we can say that we have built the most intensive and effective accelerator programme globally for startups that want to transform public services.

Besides the triptych of insight, access and capital, we now support companies with product development and fundraising, as well as PR and marketing. We also invest in companies, either because we want to follow-on companies from GovStart that go on to raise, or because we see a great startup outside the cohort that we want to back.

The West Midlands’ and PUBLIC’s open competition for tech startups

We have worked with many departments and mayors, like the West Midlands’ Andy Street, to open the public market for new solutions. And we’ve learnt a lot along the way – not least which departments are genuinely open to change, which frameworks and bids matter, and which digital programmes will actually deliver results.

The last GovStart cohort won contracts worth millions of pounds, received help to build or refine their products, support to ensure compliance with GDPR and cyber requirements, met ministers and officials, and learnt how to sell into the public sector – both when the public sector knows what it wants and when you have to persuade decision-makers and buyers that the best option is one they didn’t even know existed. We have – with the help of Microsoft – published research reports, which have sought to demystify the nature of public procurement.

In the process, we believe that we have, in a very tangible way, helped improve public services.

And that last point is what PUBLIC and GovStart is all about.

Alexander and I are clear: PUBLIC is a mission-driven business. Profit is our discipline, but not our purpose. We are primarily motivated by the promise of transforming public services through the magic that innovative technology companies bring.  And so we cannot wait, as we open the applications to GovStart, to see the many ways that a new cohort of companies will seek to transform public services.

We have written the first chapter of GovStart, along with companies like Adzuna, Pockit, Eyn, Cera, RedSift, Flynotes, AsktheMidwife, Novoville and Calipsa. Come write the next chapter.

Applications for GovStart are open – click here to find out more and to apply.

Join us at The GovTechSummit in Paris on 12 November 2018 to bring entrepreneurs to the public sector!

Future of GovTech / Interviews /
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Digitising Consent: Interview with Flynotes

We interview Govin Murugachandran, founder of GovStart company and digital consent platform Flynotes, about the company’s ambitions and their recent raise of seed funding. 

What is Flynotes?

Flynotes is a digital consent platform addressing an issue faced by doctors and patients – gaining valid and informed consent. Our platform guides individuals through the consent process, for operations for example, whilst also tailoring the information and consent provided to the patient and their particular condition or health status.

Why did you found Flynotes?

My background is as a maxillofacial surgeon, with training in both medicine and dentistry. In addition, I have gained over nine years of clinical experience, and during that time I continuously came across the problem of consent. This isn’t a problem I face alone – all doctors face it.
The NHS does over 100 million procedures a year, and for everyone of those procedures you need to gain consent. At the moment, this is done through a paper based system – which is cumbersome, but more importantly it is inaccurate. Recent analysis suggests that ninety per cent of the paper consent forms completed are invalid – which is staggering.
We are in a situation where litigation is rising, and it has been rising for at least four years by 10% every year The issues surrounding consent play a large part in this increase. Medical and dental practitioners conduct more and more audits around consent which ultimately try to change doctors’ behaviour. This often is a temporary change due to work pressures and it’s in fact the process of consent that needs changing. Flynotes is the technological change that needs to happen.

Govin Murugachandran and the Flynotes board.
Govin Murugachandran and the Flynotes board.

What difference could digital consent make to the NHS, doctors and patients?
Looking at the problem from purely an efficiency standpoint, Flynotes can streamline the process. We make it easier to gain and give consent, which can save time for doctors in clinical practices immensely.
There is also an advantage in added effectiveness. Not only will it be easier to provide consent, but the information delivered to patients will be of a higher quality, tailored to their particular conditions and in terms (or even languages) they are able to understand.
Flynotes consent, therefore, is more robust, which important from the point of litigation. It also ensures that clinicians are fully aware of their patient’s conditions and risks, and that patients’ expectations are aligned to what their surgery will actually entail. If we tie all this together, we could have a process that could save billions of pounds.

You’ve just raised investment and added to your board.

We’re really pleased to announce Catapult as our investing partner. They have been brilliant in understanding what our vision is and supporting that. We are looking forward to working with them further.
We’re also pleased to announce that Chris Spencer, former CEO of EMIS Health, has joined our board as chairman. His insights and experience, especially for a platform like Flynotes, is going to be invaluable.
We’ve been working with PUBLIC – who have also invested in Flynotes – on their growth programme GovStart for the last 6 months, and we’re really grateful for all the help they have provided. Members of PUBLIC will continue to sit on the Flynotes board and we are really excited to have them with us going forward. If ever there were a group of people who were going to crack consent, I feel like, with our board, we are the team!

What’s next for Flynotes?

We are the majority of the way through building the beta phase of our development. The next stage is in-house testing before engaging in a pilot with one of our electronic health partners. It will be a national pilot, run throughout the country. After that we look to expand to a national launch. It’s a really exciting time for us.

How do you see the future of medical consent?

I think it’s important to realise that consent isn’t just something we have in healthcare: consent is everywhere. It is arguably most complicated in healthcare – but that provides a good springboard for companies like Flynotes to then think wider.
With the likes of GDPR, consent is only going to come even closer to the foreground. So having a robust approach to gaining consent is going to be especially important. What are you consenting to when you give up your data, for example; what are you consenting to when you buy digital products? Having a tool where you are able to easily make people informed, and therefore give valid consent, is so important.

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