Virtual fertility clinic secures £5.3m Axa-backed funding

A technology start-up offering virtual fertility services has secured a six million euro (£5.3 million) investment from insurance giant Axa, as it looks to shake up the £13 billion global sector.

Apricity, which launched in the UK in mid-May, raised the funding from Axa-backed investment business Kamet Ventures, to help fund a recent acquisition and marketing push.

Claiming to be the world’s first virtual fertility clinic, Apricity uses artificial intelligence and digital tools to help improve chances for women and couples to conceive.

Caroline Noublanche
Caroline Noublanche

It provides a one-stop-shop for fertility treatment by partnering with renowned clinics across the UK – in London, near Liverpool and in Dorset – but also offers in-house advice from its team of qualified advisers and nurses.

Speaking to the Press Association, founder and chief executive Caroline Noublanche said the firm plans to offer a pioneering fertility service in the UK, with aims to launch further across Europe from next year.

It wants to hire extra staff in its three current offices, in London, Hawes in Yorkshire and Paris, to boost its marketing team and take on extra patient-focused fertility advisers.

The group also has Spain, France and Germany in its sights for further expansion, with plans to start launching overseas next year.

Ms Noublanche said the firm was offering a fertility service “of a new kind”.

She said: “When you have to go though this kind of treatment, it’s a very difficult moment, because you want to have a baby more than anything.

“People describe the medical processes like being on a conveyor belt and there’s a lot of waiting time.

“At Apricity, what we have decided to do is reinvent fertility treatment.”

As well as helping pay for its recent takeover of UK egg donor firm Altrui, Apricity will also use the funding for a data research project being conducted to help contribute to fertility science.

The fertility sector is estimated to be worth more than 16.8 billion US dollars (£13.2 billion) worldwide, with the NHS in Britain under increasing strain as one in six couples experience difficulty in conceiving.

The investment by Kamet also signals the latest of its kind in the fast-growing femtech sector.

Femtech ventures received more than one billion US dollars (£786 million) in funding between 2015 and 2018 and the sector is expected to be worth 50 billion US dollars (£39.3 billion) by 2025.

Stephane Guinet, chief executive of Kamet Ventures, said: “Kamet’s investments in ‘femtech’ recognise that this is a critical area of healthcare, with huge scope for innovation.

“Our work with Apricity is an important step in Axa’s broader strategy of making a positive difference to the lives of as many people as possible, all over the world.”