London health tech start-up, Astinno, announces grant funding worth £360k ($450k) to boost development of their automated cooling product for menopausal hot flushes, called Grace.
Innovate UK are co-funding the development as Astinno and their new partners Morgan Innovation & Technology (Morgan IAT) and Loughborough University are awarded government grant.
LONDON, UK - May 12 2020 - Astinno founder Peter Astbury (26) says that Grace is a world first, using specialist cooling technology to automatically detect and counter debilitating menopausal hot flushes night and day.
“You don’t have to look hard to find someone who would benefit from Grace”, Astbury said. Every year in the UK alone there are an estimated 300,000 women who start experiencing hot flushes. These figures are only set to rise. By 2025 it’s predicted that 12% of the entire world’s population will be directly affected. That’s 1 billion people. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the hot flushes market is expected to rise to $16 billion in the next 7 years, one that Astinno is now well poised to enter.
Historically, the menopause has been an under-funded and under-researched area of health with available solutions being broadly hormone-based or manually operated products. Astbury found that the menopause had been ignored by technology firms and that existing devices were ineffective in controlling a hot flush. For those experiencing night sweats, for example, consciously needing to activate a manual cooling product still results in being woken up time and time again, causing sleep deprivation. Less frequently discussed, chronic sleep deprivation is a common side effect of hot flushes and can have a serious impact on long-term health. Astbury says the key to solving hot flushes is “early detection, coupled with automated cooling. That is exactly what Astinno’s product Grace is designed to do”.
Grace uses a specific range of sensors fine-tuned by algorithms which work to detect signs of a hot flush before it happens. The jewellery-like wearable then activates a localised cooling patch on your skin, working with your body naturally to counter the effects of the flush before it’s had a chance to develop. Astbury likens the sensation to running your wrists under cold water - a common method women use to relieve the effects of a hot flush, according to Astinno’s research.
The grant that Astinno, Morgan IAT and Loughborough University have been awarded is part of Innovate UK’s SMART grants scheme which is renowned for being competitive. Of almost 1300 applications, under 100 are being funded, including Grace. Judges were impressed by the “truly innovative” product and recognised its potential to help the UK reach “a leading position in menopause science and technology”. Commenting on this, Astbury said “as an area that has attracted such little attention from investors until recently, this is really promising for menopause and women’s health as a whole”.
Grace has already caught the eye of industry experts. The product has achieved success in innovation competitions, winning an AXA Health Tech & You Award (2018), being named National Runner Up for the James Dyson Award (2017) and being shortlisted for a D&AD Impact Award (2018).
With the new funding, Hampshire-based company Morgan IAT becomes Astinno’s technical partner, working to refine the detection and cooling capability of Grace. Loughborough University joins the development team as a research partner on the grant project. Their staff at the prestigious National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine department (NCSEM) will establish efficacy metrics around the newly developed technology. Together, the project team will demonstrate technical and commercial feasibility of the ground-breaking product throughout the next 12 months.
Notes to editor
London-based Astinno was founded by Loughborough University graduate Peter Astbury (26). Astbury’s vision is to change global perceptions of stigmatised health conditions, paving the way for health-tech designed to be seen. Astinno’s first product, currently in development, is called Grace (www.gracecooling.com), working towards the mission of offering a safe and effective solution to menopausal hot flushes and night sweats without side effects.
The initial concept for Grace was designed by Astbury during his final year at Loughborough University where he studied Industrial Design & Technology. Following a conversation with a manager at work, he found that products for menopause were few and far between.
Grace has now been recognised in a number of innovation and design competitions both at a national and international level.
James Dyson Award - National Runner Up 2017.
AXA Health Tech & You Awards - Winner 2018.
D&AD Impact Awards - Shortlisted 2018.
WorldLabs Elevating Ideas - Top 10 2018 (from 600+ entries).
Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards - Semi-Finalist 2019.
MIAT Prize - Finalist 2019.
Loughborough Enterprise & Employability Awards - Shortlisted 2019.
About Morgan Innovation & Technology
Morgan IAT (www.morgan-iat.co.uk) is a family-run innovation company based at a modern factory facility in Petersfield, Hampshire. “We are passionate about innovations that will have a positive impact on society, and we design, develop and manufacture new products in the medical and commercial industries”.
Morgan IAT was founded in 1987 with a specific focus on Howard Clarke’s innovative design capabilities, with the company initially specialising in developing medical products. In the late 1980s, in partnership with a GP, Morgan IAT conceived and launched its first lesion generator which was successfully sold into the National Health Service in 1989.
MIAT has been recognised in several regional awards and has twice been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.
Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.
Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.
The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses
to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.
“We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions”.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.
For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org
- Calculated based on ACOG's Women's Health Statistics.
- AARP Menopause Studies
- Transparency Market Research report