Ensuring care continuity for people with mental health conditions.

Cogniant is a novel mobile app that uses digital phenotyping to make proactive mental health diagnoses and bring early intervention benefits to large patient populations.

Cogniant was inspired by CEO Neeraj Kothari’s brother, who has a mental health condition. Neeraj saw his parents called suddenly to emergency departments to care for his brother, and began to search for ways to prevent episodes before they happen.

“Making our healthcare system more efficient and consumer driven so that it works for the population drives us,” says Neeraj.

Neeraj will pitch Cogniant at the upcoming MedTech Actuator™ Origin Gala Finals on Thursday 5th December in Melbourne. The MedTech Actuator™ Origin is Australia’s largest MedTech entrepreneurship competition, and is delivered by the MedTech Actuator™. For the first time this year, the competition has expanded to welcome competitors from India.

The MedTech Actuator™ Origin culminates in MedTech’s night of nights – a black-tie gala dinner and pitch night that see entrepreneurs battle for a share in AU$50,000 and fast-tracked entry to the MedTech Actuator’s flagship accelerator program. As a finalist, Neeraj and his co-founder Mairin Reid are being mentored by Hayley Quinn from Medtronic – a global healthcare solutions company operating in around 160 countries.

Want to see Neeraj pitch at the Gala Finals? Book your tickets today!

Find out more about Cogniant.

Thank you to our major Challenge partners and sponsors: The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; The Victorian Government, The Department of Jobs, Precincts & Regions; Global Victoria; LaunchVic; Government of Karnataka; Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre; Johnson & Johnson; Cook Medical; Medtronic; K&L Gates; Vestech; IDE Group; Design + Industry; Tricycle Developments; Ingenuity Electronics Design; Outerspace Design; MiniFAB; LEAP Australia and Wave Digital.

New test for infection to improve patient quality of life and outcomes.

Driven to improve quality of life and outcomes for cancer patients, one startup has created a simple test that can quickly and sensitively detect infections – helping patients to access the care they need, when they need it.

Developed by Dr Hannah Wardill and Associate Professor Joanne Bowen from Rapid Motion, the new test can be performed by anyone, without specialist training or personnel, at any time or place – even from the comfort of home.

Hannah and Joanne have backgrounds in supportive care in cancer, a field that supports people from diagnosis, throughout treatment, to end of life care.

Infections are one of the largest killers of people with cancer, aside from the disease itself. One of the most common infections in people with cancer is Clostridioides difficile (C-diff), affecting one in five people treated with chemotherapy.

“C-diff causes severe diarrhoea. But in people with cancer it is difficult to identify, as diarrhoea is already a very common side effect of chemotherapy,” says Hannah.

“As such, patients experience considerable anxiety differentiating C-diff diarrhoea from ‘expected’ diarrhoea and often wait several days before seeking medical attention.”

This usually means a trip to the emergency department, where they are admitted for investigation. Current C-diff diagnosis takes approximately three days, leaving the patient to deteriorate and the infection to spread.

“This problem was a key starting point for our approach at Rapid Motion. Not only is infection detection a pain point for patients, but also doctors and health economics, with C-diff worsening treatment outcomes for patients and increasing the length of hospitalisation. C-diff is now estimated to cost 6 billion USD every year to manage,” says Hannah.

Hannah and Joanne came up with the idea of developing a simple test for C-diff detection, with the goal of enabling high risk patients to screen for C-diff in the comfort of their own home. The team is now looking at expanding the test to other microbes of interest.

Hannah has seen that acknowledging and tackling the side effects of cancer patients’ treatment is something that does not receive the attention it deserves.

“Patients are ill informed about the side effects they are likely to develop, and treatment efficacy often takes precedent. Side effects are almost considered the necessary evil for someone to be ‘cured’”, says Hannah.

“I am motivated by the challenge of changing this perspective, getting people to recognise that by controlling side effects we can actually improve efficacy outcomes, reduce the economic burden of cancer care and promote quality of life both during and after treatment.”

“Infection detection is a critical part of this process, particularly given that our approach empowers patient autonomy with the goal of keeping them out of hospital.”

After progressing through the semi finals, Hannah now preparing to pitch at the MedTech ActuatorTM Origin Gala Finals next month.

At MedTech’s night of nights, Hannah will battle it out with the brightest emerging HealthTech and MedTech entrepreneurs for a share in $50,000 and fast-tracked entry to the MedTech Actuator™ accelerator program.

Hannah is a National Health and Medical Research Council CJ Martin Biomedical Research Fellow and translational scientist by training. With little commercial experience, she has found the regulatory aspects of medical devices particularly challenging.

“It has been a significant learning curve in understanding intellectual property, paths to market and market validation. But through the MedTech Actuator™ and other similar schemes, I have been paired with some great mentors that have guided me through the process.”

Hannah would definitely recommend the MedTech Actuator™ Origin to other entrepreneurs, saying that it pushes you well outside your comfort zone.

“It is here where you grow the most,” she says.

For Hannah, the time with her mentors has been invaluable as it has helped her to see where the true value of her work lies and where the shortcomings and holes are.

“Sometimes it is hard to see the limitations of your approach when you are so deeply invested in it. My mentors were very open and honest about where my weaknesses were or are, and this has been a really important point of reflection for me and critical in defining my next steps.”

[LINK TO: ACCELERATOR PAGE. LINK COPY:MedTech Actuator ] – applications open January 2020

Thank you to our major Challenge partners and sponsors: The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; The Victorian Government, The Department of Jobs, Precincts & Regions; Global Victoria; LaunchVic; Government of Karnataka; Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre; Johnson & Johnson; Cook Medical; Medtronic; K&L Gates; Vestech; IDE Group; Design + Industry; Tricycle Developments; Ingenuity Electronics Design; Outerspace Design; MiniFAB; LEAP Australia and Wave Digital.