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13 September, 2021 - 10:55 By Tony Quested

Bear necessities as Cambridge digital health venture goes global

Cambridge digital health startup Boutros Bear is raising fresh funds as it targets a push into the US to fight chronic illness – notably cancer – and the mental and physical consequences for patients.

The company is targeting a significant Series A, having raised £750k to date – mainly from Cambridge angels. It is already working with globally recognised life science players to develop treatment options.

Founder and CEO Sheila Kissane and husband Robert Marshall, CEO of Martlet Capital, are steering the global rollout after securing initial supporting from some of Cambridge’s iconic serial entrepreneurs.

Just four-strong at present, the company is seeking to recruit a chief technology officer, a business development manager, a social media manager, an administrator and specialist cancer nurses.

The mission is to improve the quality-of-life of people recovering from chronic illness and empower a sustainable return to work. And the long-term vision is to be the world-leading digital health platform focused on chronic illness management.

Sheila says that the Covid pandemic gave the fledgling business the opportunity to recruit specialists from an international pool and forge special partnerships with such people as BBC newsreader Kate Silverton, who is presenter of the company’s employer training; an LA-based personal exercise trainer; an art therapy leader – Hayley Oggel – in North Carolina; a whole team of counselling psychology therapists led by Caroline Chessher and the esteemed Dr Deepak Ravindran, who is acknowledged as the UK’s leading pain management expert.

Boutros Bear raised £750k seed investment  in February from an impressive range of funders – notably Abcam founder Jonathan Milner’s Meltwind; Hermann Hauser’s Amadeus Capital Partners; Syndicate Room; Cambridge Capital Group along with David and Matthew Cleevely.

The company plans to fundraise for its series A from November with a planned close of early 2022.

Sheila told Business Weekly: “As a platform we can provide a national service now and will be onboarding companies with a UK and international presence. 

“Our courses were piloted earlier this year by Biocair in their offices in the US and South Africa and we plan to launch in the US by the end of this year. We're working on our GDPR and company set up. Many of our partners are US based to make the transition simpler.

“We also piloted with Rand Europe, PragmatIC, the Cambridge Judge Business School and G's growers.

“Robert and I will be going to the US in October to onboard team members and register the office  and so on; we have also been invited by Novartis to apply for its accelerator programme.

“We are keen to collaborate with Big Pharma to apply the learning from our data set. By exploring trends around the physical and mental impact of the programme and implementing lifestyle changes this should lead to reduced rates of recurrence.

“We capture all relevant data on our platform; we have a fully integrated dashboard that connects to wearables and recorded exercise and physical activity, and also pulls in data from fitness specialists to track nutritional intake as well as sleep monitoring, which can often be impacted by cancer treatments.

“Although we're a rehabilitation company our work will be steeped in cancer research; our data will give cancer researchers and Big Pharma access to real time information on both the symptoms and side effects of cancer patients’ oncology treatments and maintenance drugs and a more informed understanding of drug adherence issues.”

The BtoE business provides 12-week pre-habilitation and rehabilitation services to cancer patients and online employer training to help companies understand how to support their employees post critical illness – and return to work.

Sheila founded the venture in 2018 after her own breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. And the company name? Sheila explains: “Our son is called Isaac Boutros Bear, because Robert and I both loved the name Boutros – which means Rock – and Robert has a dear friend from college days called Bear.

“The rock analogy seems so very symbolic as our courses exist for people to give them strength, to guide them and help them find their inner reserves, exert their almighty power and overcome the challenges they face.”

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