Felcana is a start-up business set up by two vets to help revolutionise pet care by using interconnected smart devices to monitor an animal’s behaviour. Felcana digital devices can be used by pet owners and veterinary staff to give insights into a pet’s day-to-day activities, spot sudden behaviour change, and diagnose health problems before they become serious. Felcana has been working with KTN to source and access funding, without which its product would not be able to reach the market later this year.
“Felcana’s product is unique. It is an innovative digital disruption that can tap into a massive pet care market, but as well as being commercially attractive to pet owners the data it generates will be massively helpful to vets, helping to advance veterinary science and improve health care for animals. Without the support of the KTN and funding from InnovateUK, this sort of early stage innovation would not be able to get off the ground.”
James Andrews and co-founder Kimberley set up the company two years ago, when they had the idea of building digital monitors for pets. As vets, they were aware of common diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes and thyroid problems which can be life threatening for animals and which are much more difficult to treat if not diagnosed early.
As working pet owners cannot be with their animals all the time, keeping track of a dog or cat’s habits and noticing any changes in behaviour can be difficult – yet certain fluctuations in routine such as sleeping constantly or suddenly needing to drink much more water can be early indications of ill health.
James came up with a product that can be clipped onto a pet’s collar and which interacts with other smart devices around the home – for example, on water bowls, cat flaps, litter trays or beds.
Using bluetooth beacon technology, the system accurately monitors an animal’s habits and relays the information to the owner in real time via a smartphone app. The collar device – known as a Helix – even has a light which can be turned on via the app to help find animals lost in the dark.
Felcana employed a team of digital specialists and engineers to develop the devices, and began the process of testing, refining and patenting it. It is also working on making data available to vets to provide insights into animal diseases and behaviours and facilitate improvements in diagnostics and veterinary medicine.
However, as a start-up company, Felcana needed to raise money and knew little of the funding landscape. James met Jon Kingsbury, Head of Digital Economy and Creative Industries at KTN, who helped the company apply for Innovate UK funding, reviewing their application and suggesting improvements, and Felcana was successful in securing £100,000 to develop its R&D.
This resulted in a successful prototype, which will be launched later in 2017. The product has already won positive attention and considerable traction, appearing on BBC, Sky News as well as the highlight pet technology feature at Crufts.
The company continued to work with Jon, who offers support and direction and also helped them secure an additional £70,000 in Innovate UK funding to further develop the R&D.
“Winning the initial funding was a lifeline, and made it a lot easier to carry on with the business,” says James. “Technology is becoming a key part of the future of veterinary medicine, and we know there is a market for our device as we understand the landscape very well, being vets ourselves. However, it takes time and resources to develop and refine the product, and without grant funding, continuing development would have been extremely challenging. We are still very active with grant applications, and always consult KTN along the way – Jon is very helpful and always gets back to us quickly.”
- KTN helped Felcana apply for InnovateUK funding of £100,000, which allowed the company to develop a prototype
- KTN also offers advice and guidance and helps Felcana navigate the funding landscape, advising on available funding streams relevant to the business
- Felcana recently won a further £70,000 in InnovateUK grant funding
- As a result, the product is now ready for market and will be launched later in 2017