DIGIT Speaks to the Brains Behind Scottish Dementia App MindMate
With Dementia Action Week underway DIGIT took the opportunity to meet the team behind MindMate, a Glasgow based tech company that is developing a MedTech app to improve the lives of dementia patients.
MindMate, a leading Scottish provider of software for people living with cognitive decline was created and developed by graduates from Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
The three co-founders Rogelio Arellano, Patrick Renner and Susanne Mitschke have recently been named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs and the company recently secured $2 million in funding to further develop their app.
According to statistics every three minutes someone in the UK develops dementia, a harrowing disease that attacks the brain. Experts forecast that the number of people with dementia in the UK will increase to over one million by 2025 and will reach over two million by 2051.
As part of Dementia Action Week 2018, DIGIT met with the dynamic trio to find out more about how MedTech can be used to ease the symptoms and help slow patients decline.
What was the inspiration for you to develop MindMate?
Arellano: For seven years I cared for my grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Both Patrick and Susanne volunteered in dementia care centres, so we have all seen first-hand how challenging this condition is. It was these experiences that made us decide to develop a tool to improve the quality of life for individuals living with the condition, their families, as well as their caregivers. Our mission was always to provide people living with Dementia a way to live a self-determined life.
How does the app work exactly?
Renner: The app helps users to manage their health condition(s) better and start a healthier lifestyle through mental exercises, brain exercises, advice around proper nutrition and activities around reminiscence.
What evidence do you have to support that the app works?
Mitschke: MindMate was built with the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability study (FINGER) in mind. The FINGER study was a randomised controlled trial that showed a multipart lifestyle intervention could improve cognitive scores and, by inference, curtail the future risk of Alzheimer’s disease. We incorporated this into the app’s design and function.
The University of Glasgow just conducted a study about MindMate, which showed an improved quality of life for people living with early Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, there are countless other studies showing that you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by exercising regularly and eating healthy (one of the latest studies even suggested that you can cut your risk of dementia by 90% with regular exercises).
How did you go from an idea to a real product?
Renner: Building a start-up is like riding a rollercoaster, plenty of up and downs. But along the way, we had great support from support organisations such as Scottish Institute for Enterprise, EIE, Scottish Enterprise and TechStars in the US, one of the world’s leading accelerator programmes. Without this type of support, there would be no MindMate App today.
Mitschke: We have been recently accepted in the Scottish Enterprise Account Management program, which means we will have access to great support.
How do you think tech can be used for good?
Renner: If you look at the field of brain health, we are strong believers that big data will help us to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Through crowdsourced data and the collaboration with researchers we already see that we are getting closer to understand the brain as a whole much better. And we as a company are 100% committed to being part of the data for good movement.