A startup founded by Oxbridge dropouts has raised $8 million to try to solve chronic pain

Hinge Health founders
Hinge Health founders Daniel Perez and Gabriel Mecklenburg Hinge Health

Humans are living longer than ever, but those of us who sit at a computer for eight hours a day probably aren’t ageing all that well.

According to the NHS, more people are living in chronic pain than ever — that means achy shoulders, wrists, knees, and backs for months at a time.

Hinge Health, a US-based startup founded by two PhD dropouts from Oxford and Cambridge, has raised $US8 million (£6.1 million) in Series A funding to try and solve that problem of musculoskeletal disorders. The round was led by Atomico, with existing seed backers Eleven Two Capital and The Vertical Group also taking part.

The startups’ cofounders, Daniel Perez and Gabriel Mecklenberg, argue that chronic pain can be treated effectively with “continuous, high-touch care.” It’s onerous to keep going back to your doctor, though, so you end up coping with the pain, then taking a more expensive option which doesn’t always work, like surgery or opiates.

Hinge Health wants to intervene before it gets to surgery or strong painkillers. The company supplies pain sufferers with health kits, which includes two bands with motion sensors, and a tablet with Hinge Health’s software. People can get the kits through their employers, if they’re signed up, or their own health plan. The kit takes patients through a 12-week digital programme which educates them about their condition, guides them through exercises, and teaches them to break bad habits. Hinge Health claims people who go through its programme see at least a 50% reduction in pain.

Hinge Health healtkit
Hinge Health’s kit helps treat people with chronic pain Hinge Health

For now, the company is focused on musculoskeletal injuries, but the founders want to expand into other areas and eventually create a “digital hospital.” The startup was founded in London, but is now based out of San Francisco. It will use the cash to continue hiring more staff, aiming for 35 people by the end of the year.

Atomico partner Carolina Brochado, said: “At Atomico we believe that some of the biggest innovations in how people live over the next decade will happen in healthcare.

“We believe this will be driven by tech-enabled solutions that bring consistent high quality care to even the most remote places, and especially to those who might not have had access to it before. Hinge Health is a powerful example of this, showing strong commercial traction and proven clinical outcomes helping those with MSK feel better, faster and avoid costly MRIs and surgery.”