‘Fitbit for the brain’ Cumulus raises £6m for its neuroscience headset

5 May 2021

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The Belfast start-up will use the funds to expand development of its technology for gathering and analysing data for clinical trials.

Belfast-based start-up Cumulus Neuroscience, which is developing a ‘Fitbit for the brain’, has raised £6m.

The start-up, previously known as BrainWaveBank, is building an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset and AI-powered software to analyse brain activity and develop therapies for the central nervous system.

The funding was led by Dementia Discovery Fund, a £250m venture capital fund that invests in start-ups building technologies to treat dementia. Other backers in the round included LifeArc, a medical research charity, and the UK government’s Future Fund. The start-up raised €1.2m last year.

Cumulus’ technology measures a patient’s various cognitive functions and uses an AI software platform to make sense of the data collected to detect evidence of diseases like Alzheimer’s and conditions like depression.

Analysis of this data can be used to develop treatments for these conditions. Cumulus is currently co-developing its technology with pharmaceutical companies to help in researching new drugs.

Chief executive Ronan Cunningham said that the technology is “addressing the clear need for more effective tools to provide the critical clinical trial data and analysis needed to improve the successful delivery of new CNS [central nervous system] therapies to patients”.

The funding will be invested in expanding Cumulus’ research and development.

“This funding will allow us to build on the groundbreaking advances we have made in remote, frequent monitoring of brain activity and cognitive function in the home, in partnership with leading developers of digital biomarkers,” Cunningham added.

“We believe our integrated next-generation platform can improve the execution of clinical trials by yielding significant time and cost savings, adding meaningful value to the next generation of CNS therapies.”

Ruth McKernan, partner at Dementia Discovery Fund, said Cumulus’ work will help in bridging gaps in dementia-related clinical trials and data.

“Clinical trials in dementia are difficult and the results have been largely disappointing, partly due to the limitations of clinical trial methodology,” she said.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin