EPFL and the Wyss Center award two new entrepreneurial projects

(c) Bearmind/Lausanne Hockey Club // (c) Capture/Wyss Center

(c) Bearmind/Lausanne Hockey Club // (c) Capture/Wyss Center

The EPFL Startup Launchpad and the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering announced today that two start-ups, Bearmind and Oniri (Capture), are the awardees of the 2nd EPFL-Wyss Center call for entrepreneurial projects. Each award provides 100 000 CHF to the winning venture, as well as access to staff and translational resources at both institutions, towards the acceleration of a technology to market.

Selected for outstanding innovation and potential for impact, the EPFL-based entrepreneurs will collaborate with the Wyss Center to accelerate commercialization of their technologies.

The Bearmind smart sports helmet

Mathieu Falbriard and Tom Bertrand, co-founders of Bearmind, are developing a technology for monitoring and real-time analysis of head impact in athletes.

As many as 2.5 million concussions occur every year in Europe alone, with approximately 50% due to competitive and recreational sports. It is estimated around half of these go unreported or undetected. Repeated head impact in contact sports can lead to a neurodegenerative disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Bearmind’s system, which comprises sensors incorporated into a sports helmet, is designed to collect data on the force and location of an impact and motion of the head. State-of-the-art algorithms and cloud-based software analyze head impacts in real-time and provide live alerts allowing staff on the side-line to evaluate and react to injuries as they happen.

Mathieu Falbriard, PhD, said: “Over the past two decades, neurodegenerative disease has been observed in the brains of former athletes exposed to repetitive mild head impacts during their career. Symptoms can include memory loss, headaches, and depression. There is currently no treatment to reverse the course of the disease, so preventing head injuries is the only viable option. Our smart sports helmet aims to prevent the cumulative risks associated with repetitive head impacts.

The EPFL-Wyss Center support will allow the Bearmind team to optimize the design and production of the first connected helmets. The system will be tested in Swiss National League ice hockey clubs this winter.

The Capture dream journaling mobile application

Scientists have known of the existence of lucid dreams - in which the dreamer becomes aware that they are dreaming - for decades, but the neurobiology is poorly understood and it remains unclear why some people have them while others do not. Lucid dreaming is thought to bring benefits including reduced anxiety, improved motor skills, memory consolidation and enhanced problem solving. It also shows emerging potential as a method to study the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and to interact with people’s subconscious. As a result, therapists are increasingly using lucid dreams as a tool to help heal trauma.

Capture Founder Jean-Baptiste Beau, MSc, said: “Capture started as a simple dream journaling app but is evolving to become the app of reference for everything related to dreams. This collaboration offers an exciting opportunity to advance sleep research and develop new techniques to encourage lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming is currently experienced by only a handful of people, but we hope to make it available to everyone!

The Capture app provides a wealth of dream data and is a valuable tool for sleep researchers interested in dream reports to explore brain and mind functions during sleep.

The EPFL-Wyss Center support will help to develop the relationship between Capture and dream researchers. The Capture team will work closely with a sleep research lab to adapt the app for future studies and to develop a brand-new lucid dreaming technique.

With almost 200 000 downloads from the Apple app store, the company is also planning to expand to Android to further increase the scale and sustainability of its app, providing scientists with a reliable source of data to evaluate trends and recurring elements in dreams.

The EPFL Startup Launchpad helps entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. This joint award with the Wyss Center goes a step further, offering resources, facilities and access to the combined networks of our two organizations.” said André Catana, heading the EPFL Startup Launchpad.

Our support of driven entrepreneurs like those leading Bearmind and Capture is aligned to our mission to translate neuroscience innovations into clinical solutions.” said Wyss Center CEO Mary Tolikas, PhD, MBA, “We hope that strong collaboration between each of these startups, EPFL and the Wyss Center, will also strengthen Bearmind’s and Capture’s efforts for meaningful impact in the neuro space”.

The Wyss Center partners with entrepreneurs to help accelerate their journey from bench to market by contributing resources, expertise and opportunities that influence the entrepreneurial process.