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System C founders launch IT accelerator

30 October 2012   Jon Hoeksma

The two founders of System C Healthcare have launched a health IT accelerator; Shearwater Healthcare Solutions.

The new business is designed to invest the capital and expertise needed to turbo-boost the growth of small innovative health and social care technology companies.

Dr Ian Denley and Markus Bolton sold System C, the firm they set up together 20 years earlier, to McKesson last May for £87m.

System C was the last, sizeable, British-owned, independent hospital software company.

Now, 18-months after selling, and following a brief sojourn working for McKesson, Dr Denley and Bolton are back; trying to repeat the success achieved with System C – but this time for more companies and faster.

Their new company Shearwater has been set-up to invest in and develop a portfolio of innovative and entrepreneurial companies that can transform the delivery of care services in the UK.

The company website says that it aims to capitalise on the opportunity created by the government’s decision to scrap the National Programme for IT in the NHS in favour of creating “a vibrant market for small to medium sized enterprises.”

Bolton told eHealth Insider: “We will provide both investment capital and additional expertise in the companies we invest in; be that in product development, sales and marketing or areas like strategy.”

He said that a lot of smaller firms couldn’t afford the specialist skills needed to achieve high levels of growth, “and often when they employ external experts they don’t know the sector well enough.”

Bolton will give the opening speech at EHI Live 2012 next week, where he will set out a seven point plan for galvanising NHS healthcare technology following the demise of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Shearwater has not yet concluded any investments but Bolton says that deals will be announced soon.

In terms of areas for investment, he said: “We won’t be competing with McKesson or System C products, for the time being. We’re not intending to compete in the PAS marketplace.”

Asked what sort of company Shearwater will be, he said: “It’s an operational company and will employ a fair number of experts.” The first handful of staff have been recruited.

Bolton also described the company as a new type of portfolio investor; one which is sector specific and plans to work in close partnership with the management teams of firms it invests in.

“It’s not aggressive but a partnership model working alongside existing teams. There’s a lot of trust involved. Many of the people we’re talking to are people we’ve known a long time.

“We have significant sums already in place for immediate investment and we are very experienced at raising additional capital if required.”

He explained: “With System C we built a company from the ground up. We took it through several private and venture capital fundraising rounds, floated on AIM, carried out five successful acquisitions, before concluding an £87m trade sale in May 2011.

“During that time we also built the UK’s most successful healthcare IT services business, developed a large scale patient management and electronic patient record system, and successfully installed it at several NHS hospitals and at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

“We now want to take that knowledge and experience and re-invest it in British healthcare IT.”

And the company name? Bolton says it’s in reference to the bird. “It’s an agile bird that flies a long way and is very beautiful.”

Markus Bolton and Dr Ian Denley will be speaking at EHI Live 2012 on ‘rebuilding NHS IT quickly.’

View the full programme of events and exhibitor list on the EHI Live website or register free to attend.


Related Articles:

2 News: Paul Richards to head McKesson UK ops | 17 July 2012
Last updated: 1 November 2012 10:32

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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And flying together...

Phoenix 75 weeks ago

This also appears to link in very well with the office space for tech start ups (EHI 23 October) item and the linked in discussion around Electronic Patient Information Centre (EPIC).

Really interesting concept and one to keep an eye on.


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Flying high

lindad 77 weeks ago

Shearwaters are also some of the longest lived birds on the planet. Let's hope that's a good omen. Good luck Markus and Ian!


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