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P4SY Founders – In their Own Words

By Philippa Takhar

In the first of our P4SY Accelerator Programme Founder interviews, we’ve been talking with Grace Gimson, CEO and Co-Founder of Holly Health.

Good to see you Grace. So – what is Holly Health?

Holly Health is a platform to support people across our populations who have health and wellbeing lifestyle challenges, unfortunately many of whom are experiencing a gradual decline in their mental and physical health. A lot can be achieved by creating the right infrastructure and support for sustainable changes across physical and mental health behaviours. So many of us (including me) were brought up to equate good health with weight loss – so we instinctively turn to short-term exercise or diet regimes to try to improve things. But, these short term and restrictive approaches very rarely improve our health in the long term – they often work against our biological systems, and create added stress and hopelessness.
Holly Health is a resource to break that pattern and ‘reset’ psychologically – helping people to make small behavioural changes from now, to forever. Holly Health coaches people to understand their relationship with food, their attitudes to nutrition, and emotional factors that affect eating, sleeping, exercising – providing insights into how feelings affect behaviours. Importantly, Holly Health approaches this in a unique and scalable way – using intelligent algorithms to support each person in a highly personalised way, adapting their coaching  throughout.

Who has Holly Health been created for?

We know there are significant numbers of people who feel unsupported with their day-to-day health behaviours. More than half of us do want to improve how we eat, exercise, sleep, and how we manage this sustainably – but where can we get this help? And as a population we are seeing rising chronic disease rates, including type 2 diabetes and mental health challenges. Not everybody is able to afford a personal trainer, life coach or therapist. Holly Health provides structure and support to the ‘unsupported middle’ – the people who are not health optimisers, and they are not unwell enough to get specialist help. We provide these people with a personalised, compassionate approach, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme.

What would you say are your successes on your Holly Health journey?

I think that’s an interesting question! Success has different meanings to me. As a founder, I’m incredibly proud of our growth and building our team. We have secured £540k in Innovate UK funding, nearly £1 million in investment, created a partnership with Age UK, and this year we have experienced great adoption amongst PCNs and GP practices. We are on track to be live in 100 UK GP practices this year!
I really love to see how many people we’ve been able to support and empower to make changes in their health – how they’ve built the confidence and knowledge in themselves, which will impact their behaviours for life. And how the impact and positive changes our users are seeing is driving adoption in health and care services like the NHS. I also see personal success in breaking down barriers and leading differently than some CEOs before me. I believe actions speak louder than words, I’m quietly confident – Holly Health is an ego-free space. I believe every person is capable of so much more than they know, so I love working with the team to help them to reach their personal goals and more.

What connections / partnerships are you seeking to make for the next stage of your business growth?

We are looking to develop more partnerships with primary care networks, local authorities and ICSs, with a focus on using innovation and health behaviour change to achieve significant improvements in population health management. Our personalisation model can provide place- based services and increase scale and reach over larger populations – while remaining affordable. Holly Health costs from 10p per person per year across the population covered. Outside of NHS and public health we are excited to be developing a number of partnerships with universities, wellbeing platform providers, and employer providers.

And finally, can you tell us about your experience of participating in the P4SY Accelerator Programme?

Our experience has been a great one! The value of the programme to Holly Health has been multi-faceted – and it’s been more impactful than many other accelerators. I’ve been impressed by the different mechanisms the team have used to support our scale-up – including flagging up opportunities that would have passed us by, helping us to apply for things we wouldn’t have known about, and providing psychological and peer support through the Female Founders Group. We have got to know the local market in south and west Yorkshire, connected with local trusts, a university, the local AHSN, an investment community, an NHS research organisation, as well as a primary care network of over 70 GP practices (Primary Care Sheffield). P4SY has opened a lot of genuinely useful doors.

You can find out more through the Holly Health website, by checking out a demo video here, or connecting with Grace in LinkedIn.

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