LactAid is an app that uses advanced interactive technology and 3D avatars to help expectant and new mothers learn how to breastfeed intuitively. Mothers will also have access to close-knit peer-to-peer support groups, live experts who can provide 1-2-1 advice, and an AI-powered virtual supporter chatbot, all of which offer personalised expertise and companionship, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
CGI specialist Dr Chen Mao Davies, who worked on Oscar & BAFTA-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, Gravity and Blade Runner 2049, founded LockAid. As a result of her own struggles with breastfeeding and a personal challenge, she collaborated with film industry colleagues and experts in infant feeding, maternal health, and artificial intelligence to create LatchAid.
Chen said: “I was determined to breastfeed my child, but no one told me how painful and difficult it would be. During feeding time, both mum and baby were crying with mastitis and thrush. The thought of not being able to feed my own child made me feel such a failure. I developed postpartum depression and his weight dropped.
The lack of innovation in this field shocked me as a technologist. We had once a week peer support groups, which were great – but what about 2am when you’re alone, in pain, and at your lowest?
The UK has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world, with 90% of UK women quitting breastfeeding before they want to due to pain, health issues, and/or lack of support.
A total of £1 million has been raised by LockAid from a variety of sources – innovation loans from Innovate UK, convertible loan notes from the KQ Labs accelerator programme, and equity investment from experienced angel investors.
Angel investors included Dan Cobley, former MD of Google UK & Ireland, and Eileen Burbidge MBE, described by Fortune Magazine as the “Queen of British VC”, as well as Priya Oberoi, founding partner of the female-led healthcare fund, Goddess Gaia Ventures.
LatchAid’s investment journey began with the award of a prestigious Innovate UK “Women in Innovation” award and has been supported throughout by Ed Tellwright, Innovate UK’s Access to Finance Specialist, who helped LatchAid develop a clear, compelling, and credible proposition.
The investment journey was greatly enhanced by Ed’s help in restructuring my pitch, making it more punchy and following the thought process of an investor.
These funds will be used to augment the company’s technical and commercial teams, as well as to expand its B2B offerings to healthcare organizations as a licensed prescription app, to corporates as employee benefit schemes, and to insurance companies as health insurance packages.
“Chen has already done so much with such limited resources. I am certain that, with this funding and the support of such an amazing group of Angels, LatchAid will become an amazing force for good in this critical health area, first in the UK and then worldwide.”
A recent pilot with 12 NHS trusts across the UK and the HCRG Group demonstrated positive health and economic benefits for users of LockAid in 84 countries. The company offers 24/7 digital support on the App Store.