Westfield Health backs ‘Dragon’s Den’ tech start-up

ONE of Britain’s longest established health insurers, Westfield Health, has invested in 3rings – the tech start-up showcased by Cheshire-based serial entrepreneur Steve Purdham on Dragons’ Den.

The not-for-profit Sheffield-based health insurance company is the first strategic investor in 3rings and is supporting the commercial rollout of the 3rings technology, which is designed to help families who have older relatives living alone.

Westfield will offer the 3rings ‘Internet of Things’ smart plug and cloud service to existing and new customers – providing a platform for current and future innovation.

3rings first caught the attention of the Westfield team when tech entrepreneur founder, Steve Purdham, appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den alongside his 84-year-old mum Iris.

In this seed round, Westfield, provider of healthcare policies in the UK since 1919, has invested more than double the funding 3rings had hoped to raise in the Den. The TV Dragons had been asked to invest £300,000 in exchange for a 10% share.

Since launching the ‘Penny in the pound’ health scheme almost a century ago, Westfield Health has evolved to cater for its changing customer landscape and plans to incorporate the 3rings product into future service offerings of its own.

David Capper, commercial director at Sheffield-based Westfield Health, said: “We immediately saw the potential in the 3rings concept and it sits well with our long-term innovation plans.

“There is an emerging market for smart technology to support health, wellbeing and family care. The UK population is getting older and many of our customers are in the ‘sandwich generation’ – balancing work commitments, with caring for older family members and looking after their own children – 3rings technology has the potential to help.

“This is our first major external investment of this type. As well as assisting us in broadening our service portfolio it supports our ethos of helping people at every stage of their lives.”

With a consumer launch in April 2015, the 3rings smartplug connects household appliances, like a kettle or TV, with a cloud messaging platform to provide reassuring updates about routine use and alerts family when there could be a problem via a smartphone app, email, text or automated calls.

Steve Purdham, 3rings co-founder said: “Our partnership with Westfield Health goes beyond the financial investment and we will be working together on innovative product development and distribution to take 3rings and family social care to its next phase.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ offers tremendous opportunities to help our ageing population to stay independent for longer and reduce the pressure on families. Within the next five years 50 billion objects will be connected to the Internet and while technology should never replace real contact with family members, it can have an immense supporting role.

“3rings shows how smart technology can perform in a caring context and translates data into meaningful information for families. The 3rings cloud-messaging portal is fundamental to our on-going development and has the ability to collect data from a wide-range of internet-connected devices in the future.”

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