Bristol-based OKKO Health, a developer of eye health self-monitoring apps, today announced they’ve successfully raised a £2m pre-seed round to support the launch of its eye health monitoring app in Germany. The round was led by Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures), based in Cologne, Germany, from its Digital Health Fund.

OKKO Health, founded in 2018, has developed a range of sight monitoring apps focussing on the monitoring of macular degeneration. Macular disease is the leading cause of sight loss in developed nations. It affects over 1.5 million people in the UK alone. OKKO’s apps provide patients with the ability to self-monitor their condition through a simple interactive smartphone game.

Played regularly, the game can inform clinicians, and patients, of changes in visual acuity, sensitivity to contrast, distortion, and colour vision. These data points become cues for clinical intervention. The funding supports the creation of new aggregate datasets, providing opportunities to better understand how to target treatments for macular degeneration through the deployment of AI in the form of machine learning algorithms. The ultimate aim is to make precision ophthalmology a reality, and protect sight.

A new way of measuring sight

OKKO’s biggest investment round to date marks an exciting next step for Founder & CEO, Dr. Stephanie Campbell. Having previously raised £900k, this new stream of funding will enable the team to expand its reach, as Stephanie tells us: “This funding will support an important foothold in the German healthcare market, a key step in our global growth. It brings us closer to our vision to get predictive eye health care into the hands of people worldwide, and protect our most valuable sense.”

Commenting on her previous investment rounds, which was featured as one of the main contributors to SETsquared raising 10% of total investment in the South West in 2021, Stephanie says, “We’ve raised investment from incredible angel investors from across the UK and beyond, with expertise across health, data, finance and software product. COVID-19 has stimulated huge growth in the digital health market and I’m proud that OKKO will play a strong part in the now rapid re-development of the eye care system to meet the needs of patients now and in the years ahead.”

“OKKO doesn’t simply replicate the eye chart on a smartphone, it’s a whole new way of measuring sight.”

The company has created a CE marked product, co-developed with support from Innovate UK and The Macular Society in the UK. The app has now undergone beta testing, has been validated through multiple academic and clinical studies, and is being piloted by several clinical partners in the UK. Its launch in Germany will enable the gathering of market evidence for national reimbursement, a novel aspect of the German health care system, through studies in hospitals & clinics.

Speaking of the funding, Fabian von Trotha from DvH Ventures says, “OKKO doesn’t simply replicate the eye chart on a smartphone, it’s a whole new way of measuring sight. And the team has shown excellent traction to date, partly testament to its clinical experience. OKKO’s founder, Dr. Stephanie Campbell, has both clinical and vision science expertise, and this gives her deep, first-hand, market understanding which is hugely valuable in the digital health space.”

Dr. Claire Novorol, Chair of the OKKO Board, who also holds the role Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Ada Health, adds, “This funding round brings OKKO one step closer to our vision of patient enablement and precision ophthalmology.

“The platform enables proactive monitoring and optimal timing of medical interventions, such as the blockbuster anti-VEGF drugs. In many cases, pharmaceutical intervention can come too late for those with macular disease. By putting monitoring literally in the hands of the patients, the frequency of measurements can be dramatically increased, creating early warning signals for treatment.”

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.