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10 February, 2021 - 16:48 By Tony Quested

Charco Neurotech raises seed cash for wearable Parkinson’s device

A startup founded by Cambridge entrepreneurs has developed a wearable, non evasive device to ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and raised £545k seed cash on the back of the invention.

Charco Neurotech is being tipped for global glory by investors after creating CUE1 – a small non-invasive device worn on the body to administer specialised vibratory stimulation to relieve the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s. It can also be used in conjunction with the company’s app to set medication alerts, customise the stimulation and further track symptoms through fun games.

The device is said to be easy to use and is controlled with one large, tactile button. A rechargeable battery provides 7hrs continuous vibration.

The exact effect of CUE1 stimulation may vary depending on where it is placed, when it is used, and from person to person. It combines the principles of Focussed Vibrotactile Stimulation and Cueing, which have been shown throughout scientific literature to improve motor performance and help with freezing respectively. 

Charco’s user testers  have reported a wide range of benefits including smoother walking and movement, regaining the ability to dance and helping fine motor tasks. Co-founder Lucy Jung tells Business Weekly that during initial user trials, Charco found users’ movement improved by an average of 16 per cent, with every participant feeling some improvement on top of benefits achieved through medication.

“We have also had reports that the stimulation has a relaxing or reassuring effect, and some have requested to use the device to help with stressful situations like public speaking,” says Lucy.

Lucy and co-founder Floyd Pierres say they are mentored by “amazing coaches” at Cambridge Judge Business School. 

Several full time team members originally joined as part of a Santander grant for Cambridge ventures to hire University of Cambridge students. 

Imperial College led the seed round backed by Amadeus Capital Partners, Oxbridge angels, Crista Galli Ventures and high net-worth individuals.

Charco previously received a grant from Medtech super connector (Research England) and a £200k pre-seed round supported by the Royal College of Art plus angel backers.

Parkwalk Advisors is another long-term and loyal investor. Parkwalk’s Moray Wright says: “Our Imperial Innovation Fund I (like the first Cambridge fund all those years ago!) made its first investment into Charco which we’re very pleased with.”

Lucy Jung is an innovation design engineer with a background in industrial informatics design; Floyd is a medical doctor with the NHS, having worked at Addenbrooke’s Hospital when co-founding Charco. He is currently working at North West Anglia NHS Trust.

Lucy said: “Charco’s vision is to use technology to improve the quality of life for those with neurodegenerative conditions. We are a multi-disciplinary team of software/hardware developers, product designers, physics, scientists and medics who are impact-driven and love working closely with people. 

“We believe in bridging the gap between research and users to provide tangible outcomes that can improve the quality of life for people with neurological conditions so that the research does not end in the lab. 

“We are currently focusing on improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s using hardware and software technologies to treat their movement symptoms, give medication alerts and track symptoms over time.

“In the early days we met a man who said, ‘I am very happy now but I look angry because Parkinson’s disease took away my smile’. Since then, our aim has been to bring smiles back for people with Parkinson’s and soon other neurodegenerative diseases.”

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