Free-to-use app tracks physical activity via wearables and health apps and is backed by behavioural science experts
Caterpillar, the digital rewards app for health promotion, education and behavioural change, has received £450,000 in funding from investors including Jenson Funding Partners, the venture capital firm. The healthtech company will use the funds to add new features to the app, expand the range of loyalty schemes it offers, and for other areas of business development.
The app was founded by ex-NHS Digital Director of Strategic Communications, Paul Baverstock, and draws on behavioural science, the academic study of human behaviour change. The app rewards users for physical activity and improved dietary habits, with loyalty points redeemable at popular chains such as Vue Cinemas and online gym class provider Hustle.
The app is built on a software-as-a-service platform and connects to third-party wearables and health apps, such as Google Fit and Apple Health. This lets users automatically accrue reward points without having to input their achievements manually.
Caterpillar CEO and founder, Paul Baverstock, said: “Our idea is simple. We use behavioural science and rewards-based nudges to help people make healthy life changes that stick and to help prevent the onset of expensive to treat avoidable ill health.
“Chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity creep up on you and take advantage of the fact that making even minor beneficial lifestyle changes for the long-term is really difficult. This is where Caterpillar can help. We keep our users engaged in positive change through great content and rewards.
“This funding enables us to enrich our app, add engaging new features and capabilities, and is a key step towards us achieving our goal of helping millions of people live healthier lives.”
The app has a network of expert backers from a variety of disciplines; from public health to preventative care to behavioural science. This includes Sheila Mitchell, former Marketing Director at Public Health England; Dr Jason Broch, former Chair of NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group; and two-time Olympic gold medallist and public health advocate Alistair Brownlee.
The UK Government recently published its policy paper, Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care, which placed a “focus on preventative care” at the centre of NHS strategy. Caterpillar’s goal is to work in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS to help deliver a new era of preventive care.
Jeffrey Faustin, Chief Investment Officer at Jenson Funding Partners, said: “Caterpillar is doing really important work: chronic disease is already a major problem for healthcare systems, but many countries, the UK included, have an ageing population. This means the issue is only going to get worse.
“Caterpillar is trying to tackle this challenge with a preventative approach rooted in science. But what’s key is the fact that this isn’t about nagging people. Its reward programmes and loyalty points have a huge consumer appeal. It’s a very savvy solution to a very serious problem.”
Caterpillar is the first company from BUILD, the Leeds startup incubator, to receive funding. BUILD was set up in collaboration between Leeds City Council and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and supports early-stage purpose-led businesses with a 12-week entrepreneurship and networking programme.
Leeds is one of the UK’s leading hubs for startups and scaleups. According to figures from Beauhurst, a research firm, Leeds has the third-largest population of high-growth companies in the UK outside of London and is also the UK’s number one location for scaleups outside of the capital.
Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “With no less than seven world-leading universities, a brilliant teaching hospital, a deep and broad talent pool, and a supportive business community, Leeds City Region is an ideal place for health tech entrepreneurs like Paul Baverstock and the Caterpillar team to grow their business.”