Startup working with NHS 'plans for the worst' despite government coronavirus support

The founder of a startup that helps the NHS manage shifts says she fears the worst despite new government support for innovate tech businesses. “We need to basically plan for the worst,” Melissa Morris, founder and chief executive of Lantum, told Yahoo Finance UK this week. Founded in 2013, Lantum is a platform that helps healthcare providers manage shifts in places like GP surgeries, care centres, and hospitals. “It’s been pretty frustrating.” Lantum was “flat out rejected” for a coronavirus business interruption loan (CBIL), the government’s flagship support scheme, because of past losses. “Hopefully the Future Fund [the government’s flagship new measure] will mean we can bring people back from furlough, but given our experience with applying and being rejected I am sceptical.” Morris’s downbeat outlook came as the government trumpeted the success of the UK’s ‘healthtech’ sector, saying it had an important role to play in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Over the last month, the UK’s healthtech sector has shown why it is a global leader, quickly using its expertise to develop practical solutions to help the government and the NHS with innovative products and services to respond to those in need,” digital minister Caroline Dinenage said in a statement. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the startups and tech companies that have switched their entire focus to backing the national effort to tackle this health crisis.” “It was a really difficult thing to have to go through,” Morris told Yahoo Finance UK. Secondly, not everybody’s already got a VC.” Nimesh Shah, a partner at accountancy firm Blick Rothberg, said: “Raising investment is one of the biggest issues for start-up businesses, even during normal times, and it is going to be naturally more challenging to convince private investors given the present situation.” The £250m of government funding — which will be handed out in convertible loans of up to £5m — may not stretch far either. This is why I’m sceptical.” Beauhurst, a consultancy that tracks the UK’s startups and high-growth businesses, said over 15,000 companies across the UK faced moderate to severe risk to their operations as a result of COVID-19. Her investors have agreed to put in bridge financing to support the business, which she hopes will ultimately be matched by the government scheme.