Latch Aid closes £1m in equity investment and a £510k Innovate UK Innovation Loan to scale up its revolutionary breastfeeding and early parenthood support

Posted on: 08/04/2022
Chen Mao Davies, LatchAid

Dr Chen Mao Davies, founder of LatchAid and Women in Innovation Winner, has secured £1,000,000 of equity investment from leading business angels and a £510,000 Innovation Loan from Innovate UK.

Dr Chen Mao Davies, founder of LatchAid and Women in Innovation Winner, has secured £1,000,000 of equity investment from leading business angels; these include Eileen Burbridge of Passion Capital, Dan Cobley, angel investor and Former MD of Google UK and co-founder of ClearScore and Salary Finance (pictured above with Dr Davies), and 16 other angels.

LatchAid has also secured a £510,000 Innovation Loan from Innovate UK. The project will allow LatchAid to conduct late-stage R&D to commercialise its service for Android users.

The UK has the worst breastfeeding rate in the whole world. 90% of women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of pain, health issues, lack of support and feelings of isolation and depression. Although 81% of women initiate breastfeeding, after six months, only 1% of women are exclusively breastfeeding.

LatchAid has previously been the winner of numerous awards and funding competitions, being recognised with: a COVID-19 Fast Response Grant; a Sustainable Innovation Fund award; grants from NHS Improvement, UnLtd, the EU and the Health Foundation; and the prestigious Women in Innovation Award.

LatchAid was founded by Dr Chen Mao Davies, an R&D specialist who previously worked on Oscar & BAFTA award-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters including Gravity and Blade Runner 2049. Chen’s own struggles with breastfeeding drove her to found LatchAid to revolutionise breastfeeding and early parenthood support, via an app that is based upon a combination of  technology and human empathy.

LatchAid is a pioneering app that utilises cutting-edge 3D technology to help women learn breastfeeding skills intuitively from 3D avatars, virtual support groups to connect mothers to a close-knit peer-to-peer support network, an AI-powered virtual supporter chatbot, leveraging empathetic AI and 1-1 live expert chats, to provide mothers with personalised expertise and companionship 24/7.

LatchAid currently offers 24/7 digital support to users in 84 countries. It has recently completed a successful pilot with 12 NHS providers and the HCRG Group across the UK, demonstrating positive health economic benefits. LatchAid reports that the breastfeeding rate at 6 weeks is 65% amongst users. This is certainly striking when compared to the national average of 18%.

Funds from this recent round will be used to augment the technical and commercial teams and to expand its B2B offerings to healthcare organisations as a licensed prescription app, to corporates for employee benefit schemes, and to insurance companies for health insurance packages. It also aims to expand its B2C market reach to expectant and new mothers. Product R&D goals include developing sentiment AI capability, expanding core support to a 1000-day cycle, enhancing 3D interactive components, and cross-platform development for iOS and Android.

Dr. Chen commented:

It has been an incredible journey being funded and supported by Innovate UK in the past 2 years through a COVID-19 Fast Response grant; a Sustainable Innovation Fund grant; and the prestigious Women in Innovation Award from Innovate UK. The funding is critical for us to conduct product R&D and deliver this much-needed product to the market, now supporting mothers and families from 84 countries and trialled by multiple NHS trusts across the UK. The support packages delivered by Innovate UK Edge and KTN ranging from fundraising, marketing/sales, mentorship, PR, and IP have been important for our start-up journey and hypergrowth. Through the experience working with Innovate UK, we achieved so much with very limited resources showing our ability to manage public funding frugally to achieve the maximum impacts. We are grateful to be approved for a further £510k innovation loan from Innovate UK for our next stage of development and are determined to deliver positive health, social, and economic benefits in the UK and across the world.

About LatchAid

LatchAid is an award-winning Femtech start-up using pioneering 3D interactive technology and Artificial Intelligence to support mothers and families during their breastfeeding and early parenthood journeys. LatchAid is founded by Dr Chen Mao Davies, an Academy Award and BAFTA award-winning R&D specialist turned entrepreneur who has first-hand experience in breastfeeding challenges.

Chen is a winner of the Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award, recognised with a purple plaque. The LatchAid app supports families in more than 80 countries, providing 24/7 digital support using innovation and empathy. It is being trialled and prescribed to expectant and new mothers with 12 NHS providers and The HCRG Care Group across the UK. LatchAid has been featured in more than 40 press articles and interviews including BBC News.

About Innovation Loans

Innovation Loans has launched following a pilot phase, with three competition rounds during Spring 2022. Since 2017, Innovate UK Loans have supported almost 200 businesses to finance late-stage R&D. Innovation Loans provide credit between £100,000 and £2,000,000 for high growth UK SMEs which are working on late-stage research and development projects. Learn more here.

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Women in Innovation

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Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation programme was launched in 2016 to address underrepresentation of women in business innovation and to encourage more of them to apply to Innovate UK’s funding opportunities.

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Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund and Covid-19 Continuity Grant competitions have funded over 1800 projects to facilitate sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19. Innovate UK Business Connect is leading on a programme of support for the funded projects.


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