New Venture Partners and Unilever Ventures invest in personalised weight management system

25 January 2009

New Venture Partners LLC, the global venture capital firm dedicated to corporate technology spinouts, and Unilever Ventures, the early stage venture arm of Unilever, have jointly invested in MiLife, a company focused on providing technology solutions for personalised weight management.

MiLife will use the proceeds from the investment to assist with market expansion into the UK and entry into the US. In conjunction with the funding, Anton Arts of New Venture Partners joined the MiLife Board of Directors.

MiLife is a spinout from Unilever Corporate Research (UCR). UCR’s initial goal was to explore long-term weight loss and behaviour-change coaching systems through automating techniques used by leading behavioural psychologists.

As a result of its research, it developed an automated, highly personalised weight loss and physical activity management system that incorporates, for the first time, an essential behaviour-change component through adaptive systems known as the Idapt engine; this is the heart of the MiLife system.

“The MiLife system has proved highly effective in trials,” said Ciaran McCourt, CEO, MiLife. “Recent results show very high user engagement and high levels of physical activity attributable to the unique combination of devices and coaching. Furthermore, 84% of the users lost weight in the first three months, with around a quarter losing a clinically significant 5% of their body weight.

"In users that were overweight before using the program (BMI 25+) this resulted in an average weight loss of 8.2lb / 3.7 kg. This ranks extremely well against trials undertaken on other commercial diets and matches the effectiveness of one-to-one behavioural therapy at much lower costs.”

The MiLife system leverages an innovative technology platform to automatically accumulate, measure and track personal data via biometric devices.

The user wears an unobtrusive wireless MiBand wristband that continuously measures physical activity and gathers weight recordings. All data is automatically and continuously reported back to where it is analysed.

The MiLife system then reports back to the user with personalised adaptive coaching to encourage necessary behaviour changes to achieve desired weight loss. Additional tools such as habit breakers, reminders, community interaction, and meal planning all contribute to the highly engaging and successful system.

“The MiLife system’s behaviour-change component is the ‘missing link’ in today’s commercial diets and electronic weight loss gadgets. For that reason, it has attracted the attention of major corporate players interested in exploiting effective solutions for healthy weight loss, to improve consumer’s life style and prevent the onset of weight-related medical conditions,” said Anton Arts, Partner at New Venture Partners.

“We were impressed by the management team’s unique skill set and proven track record in pursuing the wide range of global business opportunities in this field. MiLife enjoys unique benefits from the unparalleled depth of Unilever Corporate Research in the field of nutrition and vitality that underpin the product.”

MiLife’s long-term vision is to expand capabilities beyond weight management to address sleep and stress management, as well as lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Since its launch in the UK market, MiLife has enjoyed exceptional consumer interest for its solution to lose weight in a healthy way, including media coverage by the BBC and others.

“Our goal is for MiLife to become the online coaching company of choice for preventative health and wellness,” said John Coombs, Managing Director at Unilever Ventures and Chairman of the Board of MiLife. “We’re energized by the support provided by New Venture Partners and look forward to developing and growing the company together.”

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