LatchAid is a Bristol-based startup seeking to revolutionise breastfeeding and early parenthood support through its innovative app – and founder Dr Chen Mao Davies has now successfully raised £1m to expedite her mission.

The funding comes from an array of investors, including Dan Cobley, former Head of Google UK and Ireland, Eileen Burbidge MBE, ‘The Queen of British VC’, and Innovate UK – all with direct support from Innovate UK EDGE.

The raise follows Chen taking home a Women in Innovation award & £50k grant from Innovate UK this time last yearm, and officially launching the product during World Breastfeeding Week. LatchAid is a SETsqaured Bristol startup, and was also selected for the world-leading tech incubator’s Breakthrough Bursary, created to support BAME entrepreneurs. Since then, LatchAid has continued on its impressive trajectory with solid ambitions to empower new parents.

Throughout, LatchAid has been supported by Innovate UK EDGE Access to Finance Specialist, Ed Tellwright, who helped the team develop a clear, compelling and credible investment proposition.

“Ed really helped me to restructure my pitch, make it punchy and follow the thought process of an investor,” says Chen, “it’s proved a big boost to our investment journey.”

Funds from this round will be used to augment the technical and commercial teams and to expand the company’s B2B offerings to healthcare organisations as a licensed prescription app, to corporates for employee benefit schemes, and to insurance companies for health insurance packages.

“Chen has already achieved so much with such limited resources,” says Dan Cobley. “I am convinced that, with this funding and the support of such a great group of Angels, LatchAid will grow to be an amazing force for good in this critical health area, first in the UK and then across the world.”

Creating tangible breastfeeding support

The Femtech startup will use its investment to grow its breastfeeding and early parenthood support app, teaching new mums practical skills and helping them fight loneliness, postnatal depression and physical pain.

LatchAid is a pioneering app that uses cutting-edge interactive technology and 3D avatars to help expectant and new mothers intuitively learn breastfeeding skills. The app also connects mothers to close-knit peer-to-peer support groups, live experts who can provide 1-2-1 advice and an empathetic, AI-powered virtual supporter chatbot – all to provide personalised expertise and companionship, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

LatchAid was founded by CGI specialist, Dr Chen Mao Davies, who previously worked on Oscar & BAFTA award-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, Gravity and Blade Runner 2049.

Compelled by her own difficulties with breastfeeding and faced with a deep personal challenge, she collaborated with film industry colleagues and infant feeding, maternal health and AI experts to develop the technology behind LatchAid.

“I was determined to breastfeed my child,” says Chen, “but nobody told me how difficult and painful it could be. I developed mastitis and thrush and it went on for weeks with mum and baby crying during feeding time. I just felt such a failure – I couldn’t feed my own baby. His weight dropped and I developed postnatal depression.

“As a technologist, I was frankly shocked by the lack of innovation in this space. We had once a week peer support groups, which were useful – but what about 2am when you’re lonely, in pain and at your lowest point?”

As well as positive health outcomes for mothers and babies, breastfeeding offers social, economic, and environmental benefits. However, the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world 90% of UK women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of pain, health issues, and/or lack of support.

LatchAid currently offers 24/7 digital support to users in 84 countries and is available to download on the App Store. The company has recently completed a successful pilot with 12 NHS trusts and the HCRG Group across the UK, demonstrating positive health and economic benefits.

Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support as this Femtech innovator helps mums redefine their relationship with breastfeeding.

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Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.