As part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator programme, Anya will be scaling up its breastfeeding support app across the NHS.

The founder of the Gloucester-based company – formerly known as LatchAid – was one of the 17 new Fellows to join the 2023 programme. This year’s cohort is the largest since the launch of the scheme in 2015, which to date has supported nearly 100 Fellows.

NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) specialists will work with Anya’s Dr Chen Mao Davies, to ensure the company has the necessary knowledge, relationships and skills to support it in scaling up within the NHS.

The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world. The Anya support app is aiming to increase capacity for overstretched antenatal and postnatal teams and to support improved outcomes for families with a low-cost, scalable and robust solution.

The app uses interactive 3D technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide breastfeeding and parenting support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It delivers evidence-based, expert-backed support and peer communities.

Anya is the top-rated breastfeeding support app in the ORCHA digital library, and has a reach of over 4.3m in England, thanks to partnerships with NHS providers and commissioners.

Independent analysis of NHS pilot data has already proven the appetite and success of Anya. Those using the app are exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks, at double the English national average. In addition, the pilot recognised that over 60% of user demand was seen out of hours, demonstrating how vital it is to users in the early days, weeks, months and years of parenthood.

Dr Davies has previously worked on Oscar- and BAFTA-award-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters as a CGI specialist. She 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?”

The company has been supported by Innovate UK EDGE finance specialist, Ed Tellwright, who assisted Anya in crafting a compelling pitch for the NIA programme, as well as helped with raising finance.

Said Davies: “Ed really helped me to restructure my pitch, make it punchy and follow the thought process of an investor.

“It’s proved a big boost to our investment journey, and culminated in us raising more than £1m in 2022.”