Healthtech/News/

Cera raises Europe’s biggest ever round in elderly care sector

The £260m debt and equity round sets the UK healthtech up as the clear frontrunner in the sector

By Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Dr Ben Maruthappu, cofounder and CEO

UK-based elderly care platform Cera has raised a £260m round of roughly half equity and half debt to grow the number of patients it supports by 500% and expand overseas. The large round is a ringing endorsement from investors for the opportunities in the silver economy. 

What does Cera Care do?

Cera helps elderly patients and their carers manage at-home healthcare. Patients and carers can track symptoms and schedule appointments using its app, and care providers can hire nurses via its largely automated recruiting platform. The app also analyses patient data — like toilet trips and eating habits — to flag conditions to medical professionals before they become serious, as well as making sure care is compliant with regulations.

The UK startup sells its platform directly through its branded app, which it says accounts for the vast majority of its revenue, and licenses the tech to other providers. 

Cera’s operations are profitable and is currently active in the UK and Germany. 90% of the startup’s revenue comes from contracts with public healthcare providers like the NHS and local governments, and the company has grown 100 times over in the past three years, according to cofounder and CEO Ben Maruthappu.

Who’s investing?

  • The funding round was led by existing investor US-based Kairos HQ.
  • Vanderbilt University Endowment, Schroders Capital, Jane Street Capital, Yabeo Capital, Squarepoint Capital, Guinness Asset Management, Oltre Impact and 8090 Partners also participated.
  • LocalGlobe’s Robin Klein joined as an angel.

The round is the second time the startup has raised debt after its previous $70m round — which was also split between debt and equity — in 2020.

“From a cost of capital point of view,” says Maruthappu, “raising equity and debt can be much more efficient. Especially when you’ve got a profitable business.” 

What’s next?

  • Cera currently says it serves 15k patients and wants to grow that number to 100k by 2025. It will also invest in nursing, telehealth and prescription delivery services. 
  • International expansion is on the horizon, and in the next two years Cera will look to expand into the US and other countries in Europe — although Maruthappu is coy about which ones. 
  • For now, however, the startup’s primary focus is on growing in its German and UK markets, Maruthappu tells Sifted. It only owns a market share in the single digits in those markets, he adds, so there’s lots of room for growth.

The care market

Cera’s raise is just the latest in a string of investments in the elderly care sector — a healthtech vertical that’s recently started galvanising VCs into action.

July saw Spain’s caregiver platform Cuideo raise €5m, and in June software platform Birdie picked up $30m and care home staffing app Florence raised £28.5m. Those raises came hot on the heels of a solid May for elderly care startups, as Paris-based Ouihelp raised €30m, Finland’s Helppy raised €3m and Berlin-based Patronus raised $7m.

Sifted’s take

While smaller rounds for startups focusing predominantly on elderly care have been trickling in this year, the sector has been void of raises in the hundreds of millions up until now. 

According to Dealroom, there hasn’t been a round of more than $50m since 2020 — which was Cera’s last raise. Cera declined to give exact figures for the equity and debt breakdown but if we estimate that 50% of the round was equity — so £130m — that would still make it the largest in the sector.

It could be a sign that the sector’s maturing, as investors look to cosy up to startups offering digital solutions to the world’s ageing population — the number of people aged 65 and over is set to increase 50% by 2050. 

Although the market slowdown means we seeing fewer of the megarounds that littered Europe’s startup scene last year, it’s thought by investors and founders in the sector that healthtech will be one of the industries least affected by VC caution. If they’re right, it could mean that we’ll see more sizeable rounds in elderly care in the next 12 months, as startups look to cement their place as frontrunners in the nascent sector.

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers healthtech and community reporting, and tweets from @NicolSchwarzK.

This piece has been updated to reflect that Cera’s operations are profitable. 

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