- Founders: Kim Baden-Kristensen
- Founded in: 2019 (2012)
- Employees: 19
- Money raised: more than €10 million
- Ultimate goal: make digital therapy available for everyone who has Alzheimer or dementia.
Alongside his “classic corporate career”, the Danish Kim Baden-Kristensen becomes fascinated by the psychology behind being human. He begins to read more and more books on neuroscience. This is how he discovers “neuroplasticity”: the ability of our brain to change itself. And how computer-based exercises can be used to train the brain and cognition (memory, attention, learning ability).
“I played a lot of video games in my youth. So I know how much fun that can be. That’s how I came up with the idea of Brain+. We combine software and games with therapy for the brain.” First the start-up develops brain exercises for “normal” people, but in 2019 it made a complete restart. The focus is now entirely on dementia patients. In this episode of start-up of the day, Baden-Kristensen talks about his ambitions and the technology behind his games.
Why did you choose to focus on patients with dementia?
“We started with training for everyone, but actually the idea always was to make an impact on people with neurological disorders. Through a clinical trial, we first tried that for people with brain injury and Parkinson’s disease. We got a big grant for this and also found the first investors. But eventually subsidies were released from the European Union for innovations in the field of dementia.
Look: we are getting older and older. And the prevention and treatment of the most common causes of death, such as cancer and heart disease, are becoming more sophisticated. But there is no treatment for dementia. According to research by Alzheimer Europe, by 2050 there will be 19 million Europeans with dementia. Plenty of reasons to focus entirely on this target group. There is almost no competition, the problem is big and the European Union wants to put money into it. We then secured two grants of almost five million euros in 2018 and 2019.”
What is the digital therapy offered by Brain+ based on?
“Our digital therapies are centered around Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST). This form of therapy was developed by researchers at University College London. It uses psychosocial interaction to stimulate cognition and create new associations through existing memories and stimulates the memory network. Moreover, it also contributes to the quality of the relationship a patient has with their caregivers because it facilitates a structured way of social contact. CST currently has by far the strongest evidence to treat cognitive systems of dementia and is recommended in the World Alzheimer’s Report 2022 and highlighted by the World Health Organization, among others. In collaboration with scientists at Via University College and the University College London and we have begun developing software products that deliver CST.”
What can you offer a dementia patient?
Someone with Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, loses the ability to remember things and concentrate on something. As a result, little by little they lose their independence, which is why they end up in nursing homes. This is very hard, both for the patients and the people around them. And, it also costs a lot of money. Our mission is to restore their quality of life. Brain+ cannot stop Alzheimer’s, but with our digital products we have the possibility to deliver CST at scale, and CST has been shown to consistently slow the progression of the disease by six months.”
What does that look like in practice?
“Patients meet in groups of five to eight people. They then have a session of about forty minutes with a number of conversations and interactions. An example of an exercise topic could be a conversation about emotions, how we recognize them, what role they play in our lives. Our software structures and guides those therapy sessions and also provides the content. Our first dementia product consists of 24 of these sessions.”
How far along are you guys at this point? Can anyone already download your software?
“Our first product is designed for use in clinics and nursing homes that care for or offer services to people with dementia. The second Brain+ CST product people can also just use at home. The second product is currently in the research and development phase. We are focusing on the UK and Germany first, but eventually the goal is for people all over the world to be able to use our product.”