Innovations looking to change the future of mental healthcare

Sep 30, 2019 | MTSC

The second cohort of ventures from the MedTech SuperConnector presented their solutions at a recent showcase event


The MedTech SuperConnector is an entrepreneurial training programme for early career researchers (ECRs) to help them translate their discoveries into new diagnostic tools, medical devices and digital healthcare solutions. It combines the expertise and resources of eight world-leading diverse institutions to work together to experiment and develop best practice to support academic ventures with funding, training, and access to industry partners to help fast track the translation of their research discoveries.

This year’s programme is a Challenge Accelerator, where the best minds from across institutions came together to hack solutions for mental health problems. It was open to postdocs, PhD and Master’s students from all academic backgrounds, with a passion for the programme’s challenge of mental health, wellbeing and happiness.

Unlike our Venture Accelerator, these academics came with little more than their minds and passion to our Hackathon. Inspired by experts and mentors, they were teamed up and given a crash course in customer discovery to ensure their ideas would be relevant, beneficial and help move medtech forward. The best of the best were selected to join our Challenge Accelerator. In only a short six months they have flourished; Affect.AI is set for clinical trials this winter, BioBreathe is in user testing and RetroVille already has it’s app in the AppStore already!

This accelerator has been a hotbed for knowledge exchange, mixing diverse individuals from different institutions to collaborate in new ways and be hosted by new institutions.

Nearly 100 individuals from 48 organisations across Higher Education Institutions, industry and the healthcare profession gathered at the showcase to see the medtech innovations.

Find out more about the ventures:

Personalised depression monitoring

Affect.AI is an audio-based personalised monitoring for depression. Final year medical student Woochan Hwang and Dr Alice Tang, now a junior doctor, have created a machine learning tool that tracks voice changes, which could offer a robust way to monitor changes in mood.

Affect.AI will use machine learning combined with formal assessments by a clinician to determine how the changing characteristics of an individual’s voice can track changes in that person’s mood over time. The tool is intended to allow clinicians and patients to use voice recordings made between appointments to monitor mood and better evaluate their treatment.

Hosted in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, they have worked with Imperial College Health Partners and the Royal College of Psychiatrists Affect.AI to start clinical trials this winter. Read more behind the scenes information and insights.

Better breathing for relief of anxiety and digestive disease

Dr Rabia Lalani, Gastroenterologist and clinical research fellow in Neurogastroenterology at Queen Mary University of London has taken her extensive experience to a whole new direction after find inspiration with Dr Ula Tymoszuk from the Royal College of Music. Together they developed BioBreathe to encourage better breathing for women’s biology.

Dr Rabia Lalani leading the audience through a breathing exercise

Using an audio-visual biofeedback tool, women are guided in adopting deep breathing techniques for relief of anxiety and digestive discomfort. It helps to re-establish the important gut-brain connection.

Rabia is now leading her team of five as she continues to develop BioBreathe.

Tackling elderly loneliness

Imperial Bioengineering graduate Noyan Songur and PhD candidate Momen Kamal Tageldeen are working to tackle the problem of elderly loneliness. Their project Retroville is a TV-based social platform that provides lonely elderly people with purposeful activities to incentivise them to lead a healthier lifestyle and build new bonds with their peers.

The platform will have on-demand workouts, intellectually stimulating games and health-related tips that the user can engage with individually, or with their friends. The team aim for Retroville to become the 24/7 go-to companion for elderly living alone to feel supported, socially included and purposeful in life. Be the first to try the first phase of the app in the App Store and share with your loved ones!

Early detection for mental health problems

Semantica is an AI tool that will analyse doctor-patient conversations for early detection of mental health problems. It will use various computational methods, including natural language processing and machine learning, to analyse transcripts of conversations between General Practitioners (GPs) and patients. The aim of our tool is to help health professionals detect signs of mental health problems in their patients, leading to early diagnosis and treatment.

Cohort Two Semantica showcase stand

Cohort Two Semantica showcase stand

Semantica was created by Dr Maryam Abdollahyan, a Digital Fellow at Barts Health NHS Trust and Mohammad Bahrani, a PhD student at School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London.

Personalised wellbeing and mindfulness coach

BrainBot is a virtual personal trainer for your mind, powered by artificial intelligence. It has an emotive face and can talk to the user to provide interactive coaching to improve wellbeing and mindfulness. It will suggest different tailored activities and exercises for the user and can be accessed anywhere and anytime on a mobile device. Using natural speech and human-like facial expressions makes the conversations more relatable, engaging and fun.

BrainBot was created by postdoctoral researcher Dr Maitreyee Wairagkar and Maria Raposo de Lima, a Master’s student, both from the Biomechatronics Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Maximising cancer patients’ wellbeing

CrushBox are creating an online platform for patients with cancer to have access to discounted products and services to help maximise their emotional health, wellbeing and happiness.

The aim of the project is to give patients easy access to tools for better coping strategies, products and services to enhance their feeling of attractiveness (which can be negatively affected whilst undergoing treatment).

Cohort Two CrushBox

Cohort Two CrushBox, Showcase stand

CrushBox is led by Dr Anisha Ramessur, currently doing a PhD in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, who worked in collaboration with Ugne Peistaraite, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Performance, a partnership between the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London.

Improving workplace productivity

Happy Hub is improving workplace productivity for large organisations through effective stress management. The team provide a suite of evidence-based stress management resources, including tailored consulting services to increase knowledge and awareness of stress, easy access to a stress management toolkit and tools to measure workforce stress.

The team are made up of Alessandro Pio Greco, Department of Life Sciences Master’s student and Dr Sandra Jumbe a health psychologist from Queen Mary University of London, where the team are hosted.

Monitoring wellbeing at work

Kaktus-ai is a data-driven platform that monitors, predicts and improves mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. The digital platform is for HR departments, line managers and employees, providing businesses with evidence-based recommendations to transform both individual and workplace wellbeing.

They use artificial intelligence and data science to analyse data distributed across workplace communication challenges to recognise indicates of stress and other mental illnesses, and can then offer evidence-based recommendations.

The team made up of PhD students Tarik Atuncu and Ahmed Shamso, and Dr Mohamed Mohamed, a masters student in neurology.

Early intervention for mental well-being in young people

Coggi is a positive psychology game for young people designed to combat and prevent anxiety. It will blend augmented reality and psychology tools to encourage positive daily habits.

Cohort Two Coggi showcase stand

Coggi was founded by Pepita Stonor, who recently completed her MSc Bucks New University, and Dr Kate Gee, a chartered Psychologist and a senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Performance Science in a partnership between Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music. 

The Challenge Accelerator has produced and supported a great mix innovative technologies. We’re looking forward to launching Cohort Three on the new Venture Accelerator in October 2019.

By Rachael Katz

Article text (exluding photos or graphics) © MedTech SuperConnector. Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © MedTech SuperConnector