Cirencester-based breastfeeding and parenting support app, Anya, has been selected for the prestigious NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme for 2023.
Anya’s founder, Dr Chen Mao Davies, will become one of less than 100 NIA Fellows selected since the programme’s conception in 2015, following a robust assessment process, involving expert clinicians, patients and NHS commercial leads.
NIA specialists will now work with Anya to equip the company with critical knowledge, relationships and skills to scale its innovation within the NHS.
The overall aim is to increase the capacity for overstretched antenatal and postnatal teams and to improve outcomes for families in a way that is low-cost, scalable and robust.
The UK has some of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world. Nine out of 10 mothers are reported to have given up breastfeeding before they wanted, citing pain and a lack of support as the primary reasons.
Anya is meeting this challenge with an innovative app that uses interactive 3D technology and Artificial Intelligence to provide breastfeeding and parenting support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The app delivers evidence-based, expert-backed support and peer communities, helping parents across 1001 days from conception through to toddlerhood.
Dr Davies, a CGI specialist who previously worked on Oscar & BAFTA award-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, developed the app after experiencing her own significant physical and mental health challenges with her firstborn.
Dr Davies said: “After I became a mother, I discovered that innovation is needed in public health. It was my dream to be part of Hollywood, but I found I could do something more – I could change people’s lives. The more I spoke to women about it, the more it made me feel that this was to become my mission. If I don’t do it, who else will?”.
Anya has supported parents in over 100 countries and is the top-rated breastfeeding app in the ORCHA digital library. Through partnerships with NHS providers and commissioners, Anya is currently available to a population of over 4.3m in England.
Independent analysis of NHS pilot data shows that users of Anya are exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks at double the English national average.
During this pilot, over 60% of user demand was seen out of hours, proving the vital, complementary support Anya provides through collaboration with established NHS health services.
Anya raised more than £1 million in investment in 2022, supported by Innovate UK EDGE.