MiLife has raised $4 million in new VC funding from return backers New Venture Partners and Unilever Ventures. The company spun out from Unilever in late 2008 to provide technology solutions for personalized weight management. It is now renaming itself Imperative Health, and changing its focus to managing health risks associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and raised cholesterol.
MiLife, a spin-out from Unilever Corporate Research (UCR), today announced that it has completed an additional funding of $4 million to accelerate its development and growth. To reflect a shift in strategic direction, the Company has changed its name to Imperative Health and changed its focus to managing health risks associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and raised cholesterol.
Imperative’s ground-breaking health management technology leverages five years of research from within Unilever – research that focused on linking psychological and computational theories to achieve effective, scalable behavioural change. Unilever research also encompassed artificial intelligence discoveries that enable the Imperative solution to use information collected from client experiences to continually adapt, improve and personalize its programmes.
Good Habits for Life; It’s Imperative
Unilever Ventures created Imperative Health (then known as MiLife) in 2008 via a spin-out of the Unilever technology. New Venture Partners became joint investors in 2009. Focused initially on personalised weight management, Imperative appointed Chris Jessop as Chairman and CEO in early 2009. Mr. Jessop strengthened the Imperative team by recruiting key healthcare industry experts: Dr. Sabine Donnai, a leading UK authority on preventative medicine, was appointed a director and Chief Medical Officer; and Mr. Clive Pinder, an international healthcare entrepreneur was appointed as a non-executive director. The new executive team created and will implement the refined corporate strategy.
“Trials and client experience clearly demonstrated that the original MiLife proposition was hugely effective at generating sustainable lifestyle change. To realize its full commercial potential and to clearly differentiate the service, we felt we should focus on a sector where behavioral change was an essential — not just a nice to have,” said Chris Jessop, Chairman & CEO of Imperative. “Once we considered global growth of high-risk health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and raised cholesterol, and the need to find cost-effective, scalable solutions to manage these conditions, we realized the exciting potential of the Imperative solution.”
Imperative’s service consists of a wireless activity monitor, a heart-rate monitor, a scale, an online coaching system, and telephone and e-mail access to health experts. The solution has been validated through clinical trials for its level of user engagement and effectiveness. Users are those struggling with high-risk health conditions who have no other option but to take action; Imperative helps them do this. The service will be available directly to consumers in the UK, and through a number of affinity and channel partnerships. Imperative Health is a preferred partner of the Blood Pressure Association, is featured on their website and will be promoted to its membership base. Imperative will also be available through a major pharmacy chain, and has been purchased by a number of major corporates and the National Health Service to manage higher-risk populations.
Executive Leadership from Healthcare Industry Top Talent
Chairman and CEO, Chris Jessop is respected in the UK healthcare industry for his entrepreneurial success and executive leadership roles with established healthcare companies. Most recently, he was the Chief Executive of Nuffield Health Wellbeing, comprising Nuffield Proactive Health, the UK’s leading employee wellness provider; and Cannons Health & Fitness, a leading commercial health club chain. Mr. Jessop was also previously Managing Director of BUPA Wellness, part of the BUPA Group, a UK-based healthcare company with a global membership of 10 million in 200 countries. Mr. Jessop was recognised as UK Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006.
Dr. Sabine Donnai is a highly-regarded private physician and an experienced medical director of major healthcare companies. Previously she was Medical Director of Nuffield Health Wellbeing, Managing Director of Prestige Health, and a Regional Clinical Director of BUPA. Dr. Donnai is responsible for leading the clinical development of the Imperative solution, as well as its clinical governance.
Clive Pinder was the CEO of Vielife, an on-line healthcare management company that delivered individual and corporate health and wellbeing programmes to over 10 million users worldwide through clients including the Department of Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Citibank, BUPA, Standard Life, CIGNA, GSK, Unilever, National Grid, and Royal Bank of Scotland. CIGNA Health Solutions acquired Vielife in 2006. Mr. Pinder will focus on Imperative’s expansion into the US market.
Imperative’s new leadership team will leverage decades of medical and healthcare industry experience to shape Imperative’s business-to-business strategy. Imperative intends to provide its solution and potential services to medical professionals, health insurance companies, and corporate wellness departments, globally.
“We’re impressed by the exceptional, world-class team that Chris has assembled,” said Anton Arts, Partner, New Venture Partners. “We’ve always been confident in the core solution and are even more excited about the company and its future success based on this rebranding and revitalized corporate strategy. Imperative will undoubtedly resonate with consumers and business partners.”
About Imperative Health
Imperative Health (formerly known as MiLife) is a spin-out from Unilever Corporate Research (UCR), focused on providing ground-breaking health management technology solutions to address high-risk health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and raised cholesterol. The Imperative Health solutions are based on Unilever research that links psychological and computational theories to achieve effective, scalable behavioural change. With headquarters in London, the Company is venture-backed by Unilever Ventures and New Venture Partners. Visit the website at www.imperativehealth.com.
About New Venture Partners
New Venture Partners LLC, the global venture capital firm dedicated to corporate technology spinouts, has over $700 million under management. New Venture Partners provides a bridge between technology corporations and traditional venture capital. Through its unique, hands-on approach, the firm offers a systematic process for commercializing innovations and provides an alternative path to market for corporate technologies. The New Venture Partners team has completed over 50 spinouts from the R&D labs and business units of global technology corporations including Lucent/Bell Labs, British Telecom, Philips Electronics, Agere, Boeing, Freescale Semiconductor, Intel, Telstra, and others, and has become the benchmark for corporate spinout venturing. www.nvpllc.com
About Unilever Ventures
Formed in 2002 and backed by Unilever Plc, Unilever Ventures is a venture capital firm providing funding and management skills to start-up and early stage businesses with high growth ambitions. Having initially focused on start-up investment, Unilever Ventures now also considers later stage investment, including expansion-led capital and management buyouts with an enterprise value of up to €50m. Drawn from within Unilever and the private equity sector, Unilever Ventures’ London-based team has invested in over 20 businesses, mainly in the UK. Unilever Ventures invests in businesses where it is able to add value by leveraging Unilever position in the market through its brands, IP, infrastructure and market knowledge. Its primary objective is to support technology driven businesses that deliver a compelling customer proposition in growth markets, be this consumer products, B2B or service bases businesses. www.unileverventures.com