DBAH Case Study | Meet NutriDART

The University of Bath has been awarded £1.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver start-up, scale-up, open innovation and investment support to grow innovative businesses in the West of England.

SETsquared Bath is the delivery partner for business acceleration services across the programmes, with one of these being the Digital Innovation Business Acceleration Hub (DBAH). Startup company, NutriDART have recently completed their fully-funded business support on the DBAH programme and we invited them in as a case study.


Clinical research is a powerful tool providing essential evidence for the efficacy of treatments and products. Consumers and patients increasingly expect research based evidence in return for their trust or brand loyalty. NutriDART has been developed to support clinical research with the collection and management of dietary intakes and patient reported outcomes. Patient app technology captures dietary and survey information and makes it available in real time. Researchers have immediate access to their data as well as the facilities to add clinical data and check on study progress. Full consultation is available throughout the study process and a study design service is provided on request.


NutriDART is a digital platform for clinical nutrition research, currently at the prototype stage, founded by Zoe Tolkien, who comes from an academic nutrition background having done a PhD in nutrition and clinical research at the University of Cambridge. It aims to increase a participant’s feeling of involvement in research so that they’re motivated to stay part of the study. This driver behind it was to improve the validity of study outcomes and the quality of data that are coming out of nutrition research. Zoe wanted to start the business, because from experience, she knows how difficult it is for research participants to stay motivated whilst keeping a food diary, so she began working on something to overcome this problem and it all spiralled from there!

Zoe applied for support to help her with her startup, through the Digital Innovation Business Acceleration Hub (DBAH) - a programme funded through the ERDF to provide bespoke, sector specific business support for startups and SMEs.

Watch the video case study to find out more about NutriDART and how the DBAH support helped Zoe. Scroll down to read more…

Who is in your team?

Essentially it is just me at the moment which is a bit quirky in terms of the standard startup model, but I”m taking my time to discover first what sort of business it is so I really understand who I want to work with when the time comes.

What business successes have you had so far?

So far, I’ve received a small grant from the University of Bath which helped me build my prototype. This has made all the difference for me to feel like the idea has finally leapt off the drawing board and is becoming a real and tangible business.

Have you received any awards / accreditations / nominations?

Not yet (!)… Hoping to update this space soon though.

Are you looking for investment / received any grant funding?

Yes, it’s all about investment for my business at the moment.

How did you find out about the Digital Innovation Business Acceleration Hub and why did you apply for the support?

I found out about the DBAH through an event hosted by Women’s Tech Hub, a Bristol group who support gender diversity in tech. Rosie Bennett, the centre director at SETsquared Bath, was at the event talking on the panel and she handed me a flyer and encouraged me to apply.

How has the Digital Innovation Business Acceleration Hub helped you?

The DBAH has helped me in lots of ways, in practical ways as well as emotional. Just the fact that I was accepted onto the programme was great because it means that someone independent from you and your business is endorsing you. I really believe that being part of the programme has helped open up conversations with potential investors and collaborators. On the programme itself I received 12 hours of fully funded advice with a local business consultant. He helped me understand how to grow my business and what I need to do to get investment. He was also a mentor to me in the months we worked together and someone I could be completely honest with about my worries and concerns. This is so important when you are working alone. You need someone as a soundboard to work through the challenges.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date?

The biggest challenge to date has been to stay true to my original idea. I’ve found that it’s really tempting to fit the idea to the funding when I’ve been struggling to find investment. In the end it’s all distraction and I’ve only felt lost and confused where I’m going. It’s a good lesson to learn whether you believe in your own idea because if you truly think it can work then you will keep coming back to it.

What are your next steps?

Investment, investment, investment!

What’s the ethos underpinning your business?

As I come form an academic background I want to build something that is clinically robust by validating it in academic research projects. Even though I now sit on the commercial side of the fence, my ethos has always been to create something that researchers can hold up to the light and see something they would have been proud to create themselves.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

This is a great question because you get LOADS of advice when you’re setting up a business and of course it’s impossible to follow it all. I remember an entrepreneur speaking at an event about this. She said that when she was setting up her own (now successful) business she went to all the meet-ups, all the events, all the conferences and sought out as much advice as she possibly could. Then she threw away all the bits that she didn’t like and followed the bits she did. Every business is unique in its own way and every entrepreneur is taking their own pathway. I think that the best advice I could give is to take the same approach: seek out as much advice as possible from as many people as possible and follow your instincts about what fits you best.

Visit NutriDART for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about the business support hub or making an application to find out if you are eligible for the business support, get in touch via the DBAH website.