Smartphone mental health company Mindstrong raises funds

Pharma artificial intelligence

Mindstrong Health, a company developing mental health care using smartphone-based AI, has raised $14 million.

The company makes use of people's interactions with smartphones to measure mental health.

Its patented AI technology spots patterns of smartphone interaction to create 'digital biomarkers' of a person's mood and cognitive abilities. It does so by factoring in aspects like user scrolling speed, typing speed, attention and memory.

"All modern medicine is based on objective measurement, yet tracking mental health has been limited to subjective reports in a clinical environment," said Dr Paul Dagum, founder and CEO of Mindstrong Health. "To improve outcomes for people with mental disorders, we need the kind of objective measures we have for other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

"Mindstrong's technology delivers continuous, objective measures of behaviour and cognition at a level of resolution and insight that has never been possible."

The firm was founded in 2014 and lists some top names in medicine as employees. Dr Richard Klausner, former director of the National Cancer Institute, is listed among its founding team.

Last month, the company also gained renowned neuroscientist Dr Thomas Insel - former National Institute of Mental health director and Verily employee.

Mindstrong is currently trialling its products in partnerships with several healthcare organisations including California-based BlackThorn Therapeutics.

Beginning later this year, the study will use Mindstrong's technology to passively collect behavioural biomarkers related to BlackThorn's BTRX-246040.

The first-in-class drug is an antagonist of the nociceptin receptor which is linked to numerous neurobehavioural disorders.

The $14 milion series A funding round was led by Foresite Capital and ARCH Venture Partners. Optum Ventures, Berggruen Holdings and the One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund also participated.

The $14 million will be used to expand Mindstrong's technology and operations team to help with large-scale R&D efforts.

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Marco Ricci

20 June, 2017