Born of necessity: Rising Cork medtech CergenX raises €1.2m

CergenX is developing ground-breaking technology to screen newborns for brain injury.

A promising young Cork medtech business called CergenX has raised €1.2m in funding to support the development of its Newborn Brain Screener.

CergenX, a spin out from the Infant Centre in UCC, was founded by Jason Mowles (CEO), Professor Geraldine Boylan (CSO) and Sean Griffin (CTO) in December 2021.

“This is incredibly exciting and rewarding work and we have a real opportunity to make a major difference in a vital area of newborn healthcare”

CergenX is developing a Newborn Brain Screener to screen all newborns for signs of brain injury. The product uses AI to allow non-specialists to screen newborns for brain injury in less than 15 minutes. Early identification of at-risk new-borns will enable early intervention to help improve outcomes.

This €1.2m was raised via a private financing round, with a small number of high net worth individuals investing, along with Enterprise Ireland, a previous investor. The company has raised over €2m to date. 

The company will now expand its team by recruiting highly skilled professionals in AI, Product Management and Software Engineering. By attracting top talent in these critical areas, CergenX aims to build on their strong momentum to date and accelerate the product’s path to market.

Importance of early intervention

“This latest investment not only validates the immense potential of our new-born brain screener but also demonstrates the confidence our investors have in our vision,” said CergenX CEO Jason Mowles.

“These funds will enable us to complete the development of the newborn brain screener and launch the product pilots next year. This is incredibly exciting and rewarding work and we have a real opportunity to make a major difference in a vital area of newborn healthcare.”

A prototype device is already available and the device is scheduled to undergo regulatory approval next year, followed by a release in 2025.

Brain injury affects 5 in every 1,000 new-borns but the actual figure is higher, as brain injury in newborns is often clinically invisible and brain activity, unlike other vital signs, is not routinely monitored.

As a result, many newborns with brain injury are not diagnosed at birth when intervention is most effective. There are treatments and interventions available and the sooner they start, the better the outcome is for the infant. CergenX’s ultimate ambition is for the newborn brain screener to become a standard of care for all infants at birth.

Electroencephalography monitoring (EEG) is the current gold standard for assessing brain function in newborns, however, EEG’s can be expensive, complex to read, time consuming to set up, and very often there is a shortage of trained specialists available to interpret the results. It is therefore not possible to test all newborn babies after they are born.  In fact, significantly less than 1% of all newborns have an EEG. 

Professor Geraldine Boylan commented: “The device will help answer a very simple but important question for medical staff which is ‘Should I be worried about this baby’s brain or not?’”

The impact of undiagnosed or delayed diagnosis means newborns may not be offered early interventions and treatments. This can lead to significant neurodevelopmental impairments and can have huge impacts on both the baby and their families. 

The ongoing costs to health care systems runs into the billions, both from ongoing lifetime medical costs and potential legal costs, putting increased strain on healthcare systems worldwide.   

The company has identified a considerable market for the new-born brain screener. The product has many potential use cases. There are approximately 140m births worldwide annually.

The initial target markets for CergenX are in the EU, UK and the US where there are more than 8m births per annum with a market size in excess of €1bn annually.

Main image at top: Jason Mowles, CEO, Professor Geraldine Boylan, CSO, and Sean Griffin, CTO of CergenX

ThinkBusiness, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.