Innovation & Enterprise


UCL tech startup Coplug helps NHS plan for healthcare demand

7 September 2020

Startup Coplug is collaborating with NHS North East London Commissioning Alliance to help in healthcare planning for 1.1 million people living in the area.

SidM Health spatial analytics platform

Coplug is leading a consortium to develop its unique data analytics platform for healthcare planning, SidM Health. Supported by the UCL Innovation & Enterprise Global Innovation team, this partnership includes:

  • City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
  • NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit (HUDU) 
  • Discovery East London Programme

To enable this partnership, the Global Innovation team helped Coplug secure a £500,000 project award. It was co-funded by the Innovate UK Digital Health Technology Catalyst Grant.

Developing a unique service 

Coplug’s core offering is its Service and Infrastructure Demand Management digital platform (SidM Systems®). Using machine learning techniques, it helps governments and service providers plan for future healthcare, education, leisure, utilities and housing needs.

Their initial focus, and where need is most acute, is healthcare. So the company has been expanding its commercial SidM Health cloud-based solution together with its NHS partners.

“We provide governments with a timely, accurate and targeted evidence base,” said Darshana Gothi Chauhan, Coplug’s CEO and founder. 

“For healthcare, the evidence we produce is related to the problems and exact questions NHS providers ask. They can use the evidence directly to support business cases for healthcare infrastructure planning and population health management.” 

NHS North East London Commissioning Alliance covers seven CCGs. It's agreed to collaboratively develop SidM Health to support the management of healthcare estates and population health for 1.1 million people living in the area.

Coplug is also supporting city planning in Nigeria, as part of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) supported Future Cities Prosperity Fund programme. 

A background in urban design and planning

Darshana is a smart city expert, architect and urban designer with 12 years’ experience of city planning in local and central government as well as industry. 

“In government, there’s a huge amount of data which could better drive decision making,” she says. “I saw a real gap in the market to join public sector domain knowledge with tech to bring forward innovation from within the public sector.”

Darshana undertook a postgraduate certificate in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at The Bartlett, UCL, to help her bridge the worlds of data and government. She went on to found Coplug in 2017, now located at UCL’s entrepreneurship hub, BaseKX.

Coplug’s Head of Research and Innovation, Paul Mullins, has over 15 years' experience in the industry. He's also pursuing a PhD at the The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL.

Entrepreneurial journey

Coplug has previously taken part in the extracurricular entrepreneurship programmes at UCL Innovation & Enterprise. They’ve received business advice, dedicated office space and mentoring from the Entrepreneurship team. Coplug has also recently worked with the Global Innovation team, through their Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) activities. 

“GovTech is a tough market to break into but with the support of dedicated business advisors at UCL Innovation & Enterprise, our company has been able to flourish even in difficult times,” Darshana said. “They’ve provided invaluable advice which is reflected in Coplug being awarded two Innovate UK grants. This has provided us a robust foundation for the growth of our company”.    

Kemil Thomas, Senior Partnerships Manager (High Growth SMEs) at UCL Innovation & Enterprise, said: “The whole area of GovTech is seeing rapid growth and development at the moment. That’s likely to accelerate in the current pandemic. Coplug has a genuinely innovative solution that is having a real impact in resource-limited settings. They’re a highly collaborative startup, which closely matches UCL’s ethos and is something we actively support at UCL Innovation & Enterprise.” 


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Image © Coplug