Healthtech startup Umbo scores a $200,000 social enterprise investment to help regional families

- September 24, 2021 2 MIN READ
An Umbo speech therapy session in action
Healtech social enterprise startup Umbo, which rural and regional families with speech and occupational therapists, has received $200,000 from social enterprise investor Fortis River to ramp up its services.

The wait to access services such as speech and occupational therapy can be up to 18 months, so the funding will enable Umbo to scale its ability to onboard more clients and clinicians, and cut wait times down for more families.

Umbo co-founder, speech pathologist Ed Johnson, said the cash will also support plans develop regionally-based partnerships with other service providers working to assist families.

“This is a big win for families all over Australia struggling to access timely, person-centred support from speech pathologists and occupational therapists,” he said.

“It breaks my heart when families tell me they’ve spent two years on a waiting list, or they’ve been doing 6-hour round trips weekly to see a clinician, or an outreach clinic came through their remote town to screen and diagnose their child, then left without any options for therapy. We have the evidence that online therapy works, and now we’ve got the means to help as many families as possible.” 

As a social enterprise, Umbo is committed to reinvesting 50% of its profit back into the company to reach more vulnerable communities. 

The investment from Fortis River follows the release of Umbo’s Social Impact Framework, which includes impact measures such as time saved from waitlists, travel time to therapy appointments, and cost savings.

Umbo estimates the travel cost savings of $225,000, which enable families to double the amount of therapy they can receive from NDIS funding.

The startup has saved, on average, 14 hours of travel time per family, which is also the carbon equivalent of 60 Sydney-Melbourne return flights.

Fortis River director Nigel Strong said they were delighted to back such a great initiative. 

“I thank the Umbo founders and employees and Pilgrim Advisors for such a constructive and positive process. Umbo is providing an important service and we are excited to support them in the next phase,” he said. 

The $200,000 investment follows Umbo’s participation in the Scaling Impact program run by Social Impact Hub last year. That program helped the startup improve its investment readiness and facilitated the introduction to their investor.

Social Impact Hub founder Jessica Roth was thrilled with the outcome.

“We’re pleased to have played a key role in supporting Umbo along their investment readiness journey and to have introduced them to Fortis River,” she said.

“This is exactly the type of outcome we are aiming for with the Scaling Impact accelerator program.”