Tech London Advocates’ (TLA) HealthTech Working Group and the Health Foundry organised the HealthTech Innovator conference, a London Tech Week event where it showcased innovative startups and initiatives working in the medical device and pharmaceutical sector that are in the early stages of product development, as well as those seeking investment.
The TLA is a network of technology leaders, entrepreneurs and experts who work to promote London as a world leading technology hub with working groups focusing specifically on each sector it covers. The Health Foundry is an organisation that supports and helps to accelerate digital innovators in the healthcare sector with funding from Guys and St Thomas’ hospital charity.
Here is our round-up of the most exciting medical technology companies who presented at the event.
Supported by the University of Oxford, as well as private partners, VRTU provides virtual reminiscent experiences to improve mental wellness primarily for elderly dementia patients. It uses virtual reality (VR) technology connected with its LookBook application to provide time travel therapy, which is commonly used for dementia.
The application offers a range of high-quality, 360° VR content and cinematic experiences that are based on a destination, activity or historic period. Examples include Brighton beach in the 1970s and a 1950s tearoom.
Patients are also able to personalise their VR and can use the LookBook Companion application to share their experiences with loved ones and create wider connections. The ultimate aim for dementia patients to both revisit old memories and create new ones.
The company is founded on the principle that the pursuit of treatment should not mean that care needs of patients should be overlooked. It is currently undertaking a pilot with the NHS in care settings.
MediSieve is a magnetic blood filter that can selectively remove disease-causing agents from the blood. It quickly filters blood through a single-use magnetic filter and MediSieve particles, which are biocompatible magnetic particles coated with binding agents, catch molecules based on their magnetic properties.
The system is designed to filter a patient’s total blood volume in less than an hour and only requires a small volume of the blood to be outside the body at one time. The magnetic particles do not enter the patient’s body, instead they are injected into an external blood loop.
MediSieve’s primary target is malaria, but it is now starting to work with leukaemia and sepsis patients. Pre-clinical results suggest that the MediSieve filter could reduce the presence of parasites in a child with malaria’s blood by 90% in two hours, and that a one-off treatment for a patient with severe symptoms could reduce the risk of mortality, accelerate symptom decline and prevent disease escalation.
Since it was founded in 2015, the company has raised £2.1m in equity funding, as well as grant funding worth a total of £400,000 from the Wellcome Trust, Innovate UK, National Institute for Health Research i4i and the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Instrument.
Based on the therapeutic concept of behaviour activation, Tomo is a peer support network aimed at people with mental health conditions.
It consists of a chatbot with a human voice and character that prompts users to create and sustain behaviours. Each time a user completes a task, they can share it anonymously with the community. Other users can then validate the action, which Tomo believes encourages users to repeat the action and form habits. The aim is to encourage users to share and celebrate small victories.
It is a subscription-based service, which costs £7.50 per month after a two week free trial. However, this fee is scaled down for institutions.
Tomo is currently offering free pilots to companies seeking to improve support and understanding of the mental wellbeing of its employees. The pilot runs for between six and eight weeks and is accompanied by a workshop to explain the concept behind the platform.
A spin-out from the University of Exeter, Attomarker is a small, simple blood testing device that can be used by patients to perform at-home tests from a single pin prick of blood with results in approximately five minutes, making it less invasive than standard blood tests.
The blood sample is collected on a credit card-sized chip that slots into an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8; the phone’s camera is used to visualise the blood test and the results can then be linked to an electronic patient record system and artificial intelligence symptom checkers for diagnosis.
The system currently tests up to eight different blood biomarkers with launch chips for allergy, fertility and hormones and, finally, C-reactive protein or antibiotic testing.
Attomarker has had five patents granted with others in progress and its major market is the EU.