We talked to Dr. Adrian Cohen of Headsafe about Nurochek – the brain scanner, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: Challenging for all of us in the healthcare sector; thankfully, Australia seems to be doing better than some other countries.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Headsafe.
Dr. Adrian Cohen: Headsafe is based in Sydney, Australia, and is a brain health technology company focused on delivering technologies to optimize the measurement and management of the neurological disease. The company’s NUROCHEK portable brain assessment system is cleared for use in the United States and will become available in other regions subject to regulatory approvals. For more information, visit www.headsafe.com.
I am an internationally acclaimed expert in remote area medical services, occupational medicine, international medical evacuation, and emergency medical services.
I have spent over 20 years in Emergency Medical Services in Australia and abroad, specializing in Medical Risk Management, pre-hospital care, helicopter, and international retrieval with a special focus on preventable head and neck injuries.
I graduated with honors from the University of NSW in 1983 before residency in orthopedics and emergency medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital. Following that, I became the first Chief Medical Officer with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service from 1987 to 1990, flying over 1,000 hours and treating hundreds of trauma and medical cases.
After experiencing firsthand the lack of understanding and awareness of effective treatments for head and neck injuries, I published a “Guidebook for the Management of Acute Spinal Injuries” for medical and rescue personal, as well as lecturing locally and Internationally on this topic, later this was followed by “NeckSafe: the Acute Management of Spinal Injury.”
As concussion became recognized as an important issue in its own right, I created the HeadSafe program in 2012.
Nurosafe is the Not for Profit Charity I started over 20 years ago. The NeckSafe and HeadSafe monikers are the labels under which they provide educational courses, promote awareness and advocacy, and seek to research these important areas.
I have been an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students in Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering.
Research Aims to combine areas of biomedical engineering, visual neuroscience, GPS tracking, biomarkers, transcranial magnetic imaging, EEG, and neuroimaging to further our understanding of concussion.
In 2017 I received entry into the HCF Catalyst Slingshot medical accelerator in Australia and was able to raise early-stage investor funds to commercialize the device and founded HeadsafeIP as the vehicle to take this concept forward.
Provisional and international PCT Patents were filed, logo and brand name trademarked, and “Nurochek” was the product designed and developed to be mass-produced under an outsourced Quality Management System to the exacting ISO 13485 Medical Device standard. This allows clearance and then sales into the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia by the relevant regulatory authorities, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CE Mark, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Nurochek is a portable headset using clinically validated technology to actually measure the brain’s electrical activity and send results to a smartphone for analysis and to the cloud for secure, online (HIPAA and GDPR compliant) storage.
A 2-minute assessment tells when a result is different from the previous baseline and when it has returned to it following injury. The revolutionary technology is designed to take the uncertainty and controversy out of brain injury assessment.
The winner of multiple awards and industry felicitations, including the 2020 Good Design of the Year Award, Nurochek is also patented, protected, and clinically validated in multiple peer-reviewed studies.
The parent company, Headsafe, has raised over $5M in investment capital from early-stage investors, Australian and European Venture Capital firms and has received numerous state and federal government grants, including the Accelerating Commercialization program of the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources. The company was also invited to the Texas Medical Centre’s prestigious TMCx program in 2019, one of a handful of international companies selected each year for this extensive program. Located in the TMC Innovation Institute, the program provides startup companies with shared workspace, a curriculum tailored to the needs of health care entrepreneurs, and the guidance of over 200 advisors from the front lines of the industry.
I am an accomplished author, speaker, and consultant, having worked in the pre-hospital environment on and off the sporting field, as well as in front of and behind the cameras for TV shows including “Survivor,” “The NRL Rookie,” and “The Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge.” I am the author of 4 books; “Necksafe: The Acute Management of Spinal Injuries,” “Immediate First Aid,” Survivor First Aid,” and “Save Your Kids Life.”
International speaking and media credits including appearances on “Oprah,” “CBS Early Show,” “Access Hollywood,” “E!” and “The Discovery Channel.”
How does Headsafe innovate?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: Headsafe sees problems and solves them, refusing to accept the status quo ad being prepared to call out the elephants in the room.
We engage with leading technology partners to create innovative solutions that enhance human potential, manage illness, and add value.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: It’s been difficult for us to continue research, particularly in the USA, where our partner institutions are coping with an overwhelming medical crisis.
Likewise, a product focused on sport struggles when the sport is far from people’s minds, and a return to “normal” is still a way off.
It is also difficult to attract MedTech investors outside of the COVID space; they too have their attention elsewhere (both professionally and, quite often, personally)
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: We had to delay a Series A raise in the US and re-focus our research efforts whilst also looking to extend the funding we have for a longer period.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: Exercise and family
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: Nurochek has several unique features that differentiate it from current brain assessment methods:
- Nurochek is an objective assessment of a proven “physiological biomarker” of disease, being changes in the brain’s electrical activity. It does not rely on subjective assessment of physical symptoms or clinical opinions;
- Nurochek is portable and can be used in the field for immediate analysis as well as delayed assessment in clinician’s rooms;
- Nurochek can deliver an objective reading in 2 minutes;
- Nurochek is affordable and can be deployed with individual emergency services units;
- The device weighs less than 2kg and can be transported in a briefcase.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Adrian Cohen: In the startup world, standing still is going backward and downhill…fast!!
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