Case studies

Our collaboration projects between the public sector, industry and academia bring a real impact to Scotland.

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Making healthier choices with DSIONS by Healthy Nibbles

“When you look at businesses, they expect performance from their team, but they’re not fueling performance.” – Sara Roberts, Healthy Nibbles Founder


After a personal experience in a hospital setting, Healthy Nibbles Founder Sara began to address the availability of health food options in vending machines. Her Healthy Vending business went live with their first client in 2015 – the BBC. Following its success, Healthy Nibbles began to research the concept of healthier snacks in the workplace. Following this work, they launched snack boxes for corporates, quickly picked up by telecommunications giant Three.

“In the UK, we eat 60% of our dietary calories from ultra-high processed foods. We’re on a bad track for looking after our health.”

With rising levels of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and an NHS at breaking point, the team are now working on a tool that allows users to better educate themselves, deliver real time personalised nutrition and make healthier decisions – DSIONS by Healthy Nibbles. The app will give people access to personal, real-time data that shows them what their body does and doesn’t respond well to, whilst also taking personal factors into account (such as stress levels, time of life, age, exercise measures, and more).


The Healthy Nibbles team were already well underway with their data collection when they approached TORCH for support. Their first public site, Transport for London, allowed them to begin collecting data and begin to evaluate snacking habits and behaviours.
Sara has been in the start-up world for years, working on her own projects and mentoring others and had seen a lot of tech companies fail. When asked why they approached TORCH for help, she explained,

“It was my lack of technical experience that brought me to TORCH. I could have made really expensive mistakes. For me, the rationale behind engagement with The Data Lab was that it would be an impartial route to gaining what we actually need. It would help us decide on the best resources and considerations to make this a success.”

DSIONS was also looking for support with funding. The team knew there were funds available for those looking to help people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but they wanted to understand what was needed to access that.


By engaging with TORCH, Sara wanted to shorten the minimum viable product time. Our business advisory service eliminated interviews with companies who were trying to get the project to fit within their skill capabilities, and pointed her in the direction of what to do from an impartial view point.

The TORCH team initiated the first stage with a discovery conversation, followed by a brain-storming session to review what was already on the market (and why it doesn’t work as well as it might do). A self-confessed ‘data geek’, TORCH Senior Solutions Architect, Iain Henderson, loves to track data with wearables and so the DSIONS vision was one he related to immediately.

“Health data is an incredibly private thing and Iain understood my need for data protection quickly. We want to provide a service, but we don’t want to exploit people for that. It’s something close to my heart. You want to protect the person that’s using your product”, explained Sara.

It was important to note that Healthy Nibbles is currently going through B Corp Accreditation. Iain was able to bring insights around data privacy, and what was needed from a technical point of view, which allowed Sara to concentrate on her business.

TORCH and The Data Lab team also played a valuable part in funding applications for the project. Sara had questions around how to tackle this, and our External Funding services were able to make introductions that provided her with a framework of technical and key phrases to be included. This has proved to be an important part of the first stage for DSIONS; working alongside an expert has presented Healthy Nibbles with new insights around their business in answering application questions.


As DSIONS wait for funding to come through at the start of the New Year, TORCH has made introductions to both an emerging CTO for the project and to the team at Microsoft. These things combined will move the project into second stages.

Sara believes DSIONS has a first-mover advantage within an established market that is still growing. Speaking about the importance of working with TORCH to get the project off the ground, she told us,

“I think it’s helped maximise time and help us be efficient; to have that top down approach and view of the business without any preconceived ideas. It’s helped bring together the best of what is available out there in areas I wouldn’t not have known about. It’s expedited that start-up journey.”

Summarising the project and the need for their revolutionary product, she continued,

“One of the best things about this experience was bringing together a team that believe this can change the world. It can have fundamental impact on cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease. It can be so powerful if done right – but a failure if it’s done wrong. And, where the world is at the moment, time is of the essence in terms of putting plans into action.”

Want to follow the DSIONS journey? Look out for our follow up case study with the Healthy Nibbles team in 2021.

You can find more examples of how TORCH has enabled business to successfully take their next steps with data here.