The Care Messenger system, created by digital media specialists i-Spy Digital, allows messages, images and reminders to be sent from mobiles or computers straight to a television screen, and can send information to both individuals and groups.
The system is designed for use by older people who might not have easy access to computers or other messaging devices, or who might not be comfortable using them, and can enable people such as family, friends, healthcare professionals or support teams to easily stay in regular touch.
To help provide the working capital required to fund Care Messenger’s development, i-Spy Digital has worked with NEL Fund Managers to bring in a £185,000 investment from the Growth Fund.
The Newcastle-based firm has already partnered with a number of well-known names in the social care and housing sectors, including Gentoo, Housing & Care 21 and the Mears Group, who provide the Care Messenger system as a standard part of their service package.
It is also currently undertaking a number of other validation projects with potential partners around the UK, and is in discussion with distributors in the US who are looking at taking the system across the Atlantic.
Information sent via Care Messenger appears during programmes, so senders know that it has been seen. Urgent messages can be instantly overlaid on TV programmes, while an alert ‘bubble’ allows recipients to open other messages at their leisure.
Recipients can respond via an easy-to-use remote control device, with messages being marked ‘read’ and time stamped when they do so.
The system works on a subscription model, meaning that no advertising or unsolicited messages are sent, and messages can be scheduled to appear at specific times, so recipients can be reminded to, for example, take medication or attend appointments.
In addition to Care Messenger, i-Spy Digital also has a successful, long-standing digital signage business which it is aiming to continue to grow.
Chief executive Paul Slaughter says: “While most of us take keeping in touch via phones, tablets and computers pretty much for granted these days, research suggests that only around 30 per cent of older people have access to these sorts of devices, meaning many of them aren’t as easy to reach as their family and friends would like them to be.
“With the proportion of older people of the population getting ever greater, and the importance to keeping in touch with them growing as well, we think there are huge opportunities to extend the reach of Care Messenger across a range of domestic and overseas markets.
“The fact that it is already integrated into the product offerings of several of the UK’s best-known social care and housing companies gives a clear indication of its quality and suitability for purpose, and we’re confident of signing up more partners and distributors in the coming months.
“The financial model offered by NEL fits well with the current needs of the business, and the investment team was very helpful and professional right through the process of bringing in the Growth Fund investment.”
David Thomas, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Care Messenger is responding to a real and growing need by applying technology in a clever and user-friendly way, and i-Spy Digital are now well set to make the most of the commercial opportunities it provides across a range of different markets.”
Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.
Managed by North East Finance, it will see £142m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13.
NEL is looking to
make around 130 investments from the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visitwww.nel.co.uk
or contact the investment team on 0845 111 1850.
The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.