LatchAid – an award-winning breastfeeding and early parenthood support app and graduate of our 2018 Health Innovation Programme (HIP) – has been awarded £100,000 from SBRI Healthcare to address inequalities in maternity care.

SBRI Healthcare is an Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) initiative – a partnership between patient groups, government bodies, industry and the NHS hosted by NHS England – and is delivered in partnership with the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). 

‘Competition 20 – Health Inequalities in Maternity Care’ was launched in May 2022 as a Phase 1 development funding competition to demonstrate feasibility. In consultation with clinicians, nurses, midwives, and other stakeholders working in the provision of care across the maternity care spectrum, innovations were sought specifically for perinatal mental health, risk identification, stratification, and intervention, and support for women post-discharge.

While the UK is among one of the safest places to give birth, maternity care is impacted by health inequalities.

Black and Asian women are more likely to die during pregnancy, and childbirth and poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth, foetal growth restriction, and stillbirth, disproportionately affect Black and Asian women from the most socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

One in four women experience mental health difficulties during, or in the 24 months following pregnancy, and maternal mental health challenges are associated with both large and lasting personal and societal costs.

Tragically, maternal suicide is the leading cause of direct deaths within one year after the end of pregnancy.

LatchAid is an award-winning app utilising cutting-edge 3D interactive technology, an AI-powered virtual companion leveraging 1-to-1 specialist support, and virtual support communities, to provide families with scalable breastfeeding and early parenthood support 24/7 and address health inequalities in maternity care. LatchAid’s NHS pilot in four ICS’ demonstrated a x2 increase of exclusive breastfeeding rates at six weeks postnatally compared with the national average.

The app, which was developed by Dr Chen Mao Davies after experiencing huge breastfeeding challenges herself, began its innovation journey on our Health Innovation Programme in 2018.

Dr Chen Mao Davies, CEO and founder of LatchAid, said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding from SBRI Healthcare which will help us develop at a key point in our journey. We’re looking forward to working with SBRI Healthcare and the AHSNs to build and test our offering over the next six months with the ultimate aim to benefit as many patients as possible.

“Since graduating from the HIP, the West of England AHSN has continued to support me and LatchAid on my healthcare innovation journey, presenting funding opportunities, reviewing and steering applications for funding and making introductions to key contacts within the NHS. I would not be where I am without their continued support.”

Alex Leach, Deputy Director of Innovation and Growth at the West of England AHSN added: “We’re thrilled that LatchAid has secured this funding to address inequalities in maternity care, in support of the NHS Long Term Plan. LatchAid started its innovation journey on our Health Innovation Programme and has since gone from business acorn to Innovate UK and SBRI winner. We’re excited to be part of its continued growth and see its ever-increasing impact.”

LatchAid will be rebranding as Anya in January 2023.

Find out more about LatchAid’s impact here.

Posted on December 14, 2022

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