THE founder of medical technology firm Snap40 has said the company has the potential to become Scotland’s next unicorn business, with a value of more than £1 billion.

Labelled the ‘doctor on your arm’, Snap40's kit works by using wearable technology to constantly monitor, analyse and report on a hospital patient’s vital signs. It also alerts medical staff to emergencies and prioritises patient care.

“We’re trying to build a billion pound business that delivers on the needs and requirements of patients and healthcare providers,” said chief executive Christopher McCann.

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“We’re in a position to do something really special that can bring some pretty big benefits to patients and to healthcare providers,” he added. “We’re in this to build a big company.”

If the business does reach such noteworthy scale, it would replicate the success of Skyscanner and FanDuel, Scotland’s only ‘unicorn’ businesses, which were valued at more than $1bn. Both have subsequently been sold or merged within that range.

The company was founded by Mr McCann in 2014 along with business partners David Bowie and Stewart Whiting. In November last year, it won the largest ever tranche of seed funding in Scotland, with Par Equity leading a £2 million round.

Paul Munn, partner at Par Equity said Snap40 was at the forefront of a trend for bringing technology and data together to deliver healthcare benefits.

“What excited us most about Snap40 is that they go a step beyond the data and provide the analysis and alerting that can really make a difference to the daily work of healthcare professionals and ultimately to the patients they care for,” he said.

Snap40’s technology includes hardware and a software platform, with Mr McCann saying the company is in the artificial intelligence (AI) business, rather than hardware. “You can’t reasonably do robust AI without historical data to learn from, therefore we had to have our own hardware to pull that off,” he said.

The wearable devise is strapped to the upper arm and continuously monitors patients on hospital wards. It records heart rate, respiratory rates, oxygen saturation, changes in blood pressure, temperature and body movement. These vital signs are then analysed every 30 seconds.

Last month, Snap40 won a £1 million small business research initiative (SBRI) healthcare development contract with NHS England, which it will use to enhance its technology and progress further clinical studies with NHS Fife and NHS Lothian.

The patient monitoring market has been estimated to be worth $35 billion but is dominated by big firms focused on critical care monitoring, using technology that confines patients to their beds.

Mr McCann said that while a number of start-ups had entered the space, none were yet at a scale of Snap40.

“This is undoubtedly an incredibly hot space,” he said. “We see new companies here, in Europe and the US all the time but I think we are pulling ahead of the pack.”

He highlights the fact Snap40 has been proven to have worked in a clinical study and has “robust validation”.

“Competition doesn’t really bother me – I’m interested in what we do," he said. "This is a relatively new market vertical so the competition is educating potential customers of ours that what we do exists, and we are determined to have the best product in this market to win those customers.”

Scottish Enterprise has provided £224,700 in grants to the business and Adrian Gillespie, managing director of growth companies, innovation and infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Chris is quickly developing a top-class team and advancing a hugely exciting technology. Snap40 has the potential to establish itself as an innovative, international company of scale, of which we are aiming to see many more in Scotland”.

The company has just made three hires and there are currently four open positions.

And Mr McCann said he expected CE Marking within three months, opening up the European market.

“The industry that most needs technology right now is healthcare,” he said. “It’s not about replacing jobs, it’s helping the people there to do their jobs as best they can. Technology goes into finance, into retail; that’s just not happened in healthcare and that is so exciting, and that is the opportunity.”