Lua Health: An AI platform to make work a little less stressful

12 Feb 2024

From left: Mihael Arcan and Fionn Delahunty. Image: Lua Health

Founded by experts in psychology, artificial intelligence and data analytics, Lua Health is leading a ‘proactive revolution’ in improving wellbeing at the workplace.

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The story behind our latest Start-up of the Week goes back to when Fionn Delahunty was completing his master’s thesis at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

While at the university, he crossed paths with AI researcher Dr Mihael Arcan, who was his thesis supervisor. Together they worked on the original AI algorithm that would eventually become a start-up the two founded together, Lua Health.

Based in the Business Innovation Centre at the University of Galway, Lua Health aims to challenge the conventional approach to workplace wellbeing.

“In a world where many companies react to stress and burnout, we’re leading a proactive revolution,” says CEO Delahunty, who studied psychology at University of Galway before completing his master’s in applied data science in Sweden.

“Built on top of research-backed AI, we empower employees to actively monitor and manage their mental health in real time, facilitating proactive measures for their overall wellbeing.”

What’s different?

The idea behind Lua Health is to help companies prioritise wellbeing at the workplace with a platform that also makes sense economically.

Delahunty says that despite investing billions in workplace wellbeing, the return on investment for many companies has been proven to be “disappointingly low”. This is on top of research that shows eliminating existing workplace wellbeing programmes has little to no impact on the actual wellbeing of employees.

And how exactly does Lua Health plan to change that? By using the best that technology advancements have to offer in 2024.

“The team has developed a suite of AI algorithms that can measure mental wellbeing issues such as stress, burnout, depression and anxiety from how someone writes or speaks,” Delahunty explains.

“We firmly believe that the future of wellbeing lies in prevention and early detection, ensuring the right support at the right time.”

Initially funded by an Enterprise Ireland commercialisation fund at the University of Galway, Lua Health’s founders have published several peer-reviewed papers to show “high levels of sensitivity and specificity”. The start-up spun out of the university last year.

“The research gave birth to Lua Health, an AI ally for employees to be able to measure their mental health in real time. The tech has already seen strong adoption rates, lowering stress, increasing productivity and decreasing turnover.”

Investors are watching

Besides Delahunty’s own expertise in psychology and data science, Arcan also brings a wealth of experience to the table. He completed his PhD in AI at the Science Foundation Ireland Insight Centre for Data Analytics and has led several large language model projects.

Lua Health recently launched an initial app on the Microsoft store, allowing any company that uses MS products to deploy the platform “in one click”. The start-up also took on its first business hire late last year to get the ball rolling on sales.

“Our product has already been tested with large multinational companies, and we’ve proven the ability to reduce stress, increase productivity and decrease turnover. Most importantly the employees themselves like using our software with high [net promoter] scores,” Delahunty goes on, hinting at the fact that investors are taking note (watch this space).

“The founders, team and investors all share a common belief: that we can shape a world where individuals no longer need to suffer in silence with stress, burnout and mental health issues.

“Instead, our vision is to enable people to access supports in real time. To get a helping hand after they’ve had a bad or challenging week.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic