Scientist turned entrepreneur shares secrets of success

Jul 29, 2019 | MTSC

Imperial bioengineering student turned startup founder, has become the newest board member at the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service


Letizia Gionfrida, an Imperial bioengineering student turned startup founder, has become the newest board member at the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS), where she will share her insights to improve support offered at Imperial to help other students and staff emulate the entrepreneurial success she has had since founding her medtech venture Arthronica.

Letizia began her entrepreneurial journey as a participant in the MedTech SuperConnector (MTSC), an accelerator programme that gives postdocs and postgraduate students training, financial support and access to a supportive community to launch medical technology ventures based on ideas arising from their research. However, the MTSC is more than an accelerator programme. Its looks beyond simply the commercialisation of technology to focus on individuals and build institutional capacity in partner institutions. Through the knowledge exchange programme, it empowers its entrepreneurs to inspire and to aid future entrepreneurs.

Building on her PhD research, Letizia used her time as an MTSC cohort member to develop Arthronica, an all-in-one AI-powered platform that can diagnose and monitor musculoskeletal disorders through computer vision. The system uses a camera on a laptop or phone combined with software to measure mobility, functionality and swelling of joints to remotely assess chronic arthritis and provide evidence on the effectiveness of treatment. She has since won support from Entrepreneur First and the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center, and recently secured £200,000 funding from Versus Arthritis as trials of the technology begin at NHS sites in London and Leeds.

Letizia will now use her experience to improve support for other entrepreneurs in her role at IVMS, a flagship programme in Imperial College London’s suite of programmes and services designed to support academic, student and staff entrepreneurship. She said: “In joining the IVMS Board, I’m honoured to be able to learn and provide feedback on my journey to support the next generation of deep healthtech entrepreneurs. For Arthronica everything started because of the MTSC, and for me, being able to support other students in this amazing journey is really fundamental.” When asked about what she is excited to share, she said: “Patience, truth and diligence are the key ingredients to deliver a good product/service, particularly in medtech where clinical trials involve long and detailed procedures.”

Victoria Nicholl, Entrepreneurship Development Manager at Imperial said: “Letizia’s wealth of experience with different types of mentorship, including the prestigious MedTech SuperConnector and Entrepreneur First programmes, and other Imperial Enterprise Lab such as Experts-in-Residence have provided her with unique perspective to advise the IVMS Board on how to provide most value to founders. Given her success in raising Venture Capital, charity and grant funding, growing her team and building a hugely ambitious technology startup, she is well placed to help IVMS innovate and iterate our practice, preparing us to scale further, increasing the number of Imperial students and staff we can assist on their entrepreneurial journeys.”

Watch this video to learn more about Letizia’s technology and hear about the MTSC support that she is using to improve support for a generation of deep medtech entrepreneurs.