By Scott Wright

A GLASGOW-based company billed as the “Deliveroo of pharmacy” has attracted £10 million of investment to power its growth ambitions.

Phlo, a digital pharmacy that offers a same-day prescription delivery service, plans to scale up operations and partnerships with healthcare providers after a funding round that combines equity investment with the conversion of existing loan notes.

The Series A funding round was led by Thairm Bio, a Scottish-based investment firm and Scottish Enterprise, with support from a number of angel investors. It follows a £2m crowdfunding investment round staged by the firm in 2020, which exceeded its initial target.

Phlo was established by Nadeem Sarwar, a former banker, in early 2020, and started out by providing prescription deliveries to NHS and private patients in London, in some cases by bike. The company is a registered pharmacy and built the back-end operating technology and software for its digital platform. It also controls its own logistics operation, with patients promised that they will receive their prescriptions within four hours of being issued by their GP.

After its initial launch in London, Phlo moved subsequently into Birmingham, and plans this year to launch its digital pharmacy in Manchester. It also remains committed to launching into the Scottish market, as soon as the NHS here has developed its own electronic prescription system.

Phlo said more than 110,000 orders have been fulfilled since it launched.

The company has also developed a second product, Phlo Connect, which provides digital pharmacy infrastructure that it says enables health technology companies and private healthcare providers to offer a “seamless, complete digital pharmacy service”. Phlo Connect partners include Babylon, Leva Clinic, SkinDoc, Syrona Health and The Dermatology Partnership. Phlo now employs more than 70 people who are mostly based at its Glasgow headquarters.

Mr Sarwar said: “I would like to thank our existing and new investors for supporting Phlo’s mission as we enter into our next stage of growth. The investment raised will help support our expansion across the UK and allow us to continue developing our Phlo Digital Pharmacy and Phlo Connect offering to improve healthcare outcomes.

“This round of investment is particularly crucial in helping us scale our offering and realising our vision of establishing Phlo as the market leader in the delivery of next-generation digital pharmacy services right across the UK.

“We have a very busy roadmap ahead and some incredibly exciting opportunities to take advantage of in 2023 and beyond.”

Mark Bamforth, founder of Thairm Bio, said: “Thairm Bio is delighted to lead this investment round, in partnership with a dedicated group of investors, and to support Phlo in their continued expansion across the UK.

“Phlo’s drive and determination to improve patient access and healthcare outcomes at this pivotal moment for the pharmacy sector is impressive.

“Phlo’s dedication to building innovative digital solutions that put patients and clinicians at the heart of what they do is key to driving positive change in the sector, empowering patients and healthcare providers. On behalf of Thairm Bio, I am proud to support Phlo and personally excited to see what the team achieves in the next stage of their journey.”

Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Phlo is a fantastic example of a growing innovative company that is helping patients and healthcare providers through its technology.

“With Scottish Enterprise investment, the company can scale up operations and expand its services into new markets.”