UCC spinout NeuroBell raises €2.1m

Cork start-up NeuroBell has developed an AI-powered medical device to accurately detect seizures in newborns, which can reduce the risk of long-term brain injury.

Medtech start-up NeuroBell, a spin-out from University College Cork, has closed a €2.1m investment round.

The round was led by Furthr VC, Atlantic Bridge and the HBAN MedTech Syndicate as well as Enterprise Ireland and various private investors.

NeuroBell will use the funding to launch its ground-breaking technology for real-time and accurate detection of seizures in newborns needing additional care, enabling early intervention that can improve outcomes.

To support its mission, NeuroBell will create 12 new jobs by 2025.

Seizures are the most common sign of brain injury, signalling the need for urgent treatment that can prevent further seizures and improve outcomes.

Life-saving innovation

Founded by Dr Mark O’Sullivan, Dr Alison O’Shea and Colm Murphy, and a spin-out from University College Cork and the Irish Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research (INFANT), NeuroBell aims to address a critical gap in the availability and accuracy of current technologies used to detect seizures in newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Early detection of seizures is crucial for enabling early intervention that will help reduce seizure burden, which can cause life-changing conditions such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Currently, continuous electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring is used to monitor newborn brain activity, however, these devices are cumbersome, have limited availability and require specialised training to operate and interpret results. A lack of expertise in this area leads to overlooked and untreated seizures.

Using embedded edge-AI, NeuroBell has developed an easy-to-use, pocket-sized wireless brain monitor which can detect seizures in NICU patients. The technology enables routine monitoring of babies across various hospital settings without the need for specialised expertise. The user-friendly system eliminates the need for extensive training in both configuration and result interpretation.

“This funding marks a significant leap forward in advancing our goal to launch the product and get it into the hands of clinicians around the world to help newborn patients,” said NeuroBell co-founder and CEO Dr Mark O’Sullivan.

“It speaks volumes about our incredible team, who are passionate about using novel technologies to solve this critical medical need. Our solution will improve newborn care, offering gold standard brain monitoring with automated decision support to patients in all settings, including regional and tertiary hospitals.”

Supported by the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund, NeuroBell is now focused on securing FDA approval before launching its device in the US market in 2024, followed by the European market. The funding will enable NeuroBell to develop its product further, carry out additional clinical trials and expand its team. The new roles will be in engineering, quality assurance, and business development. The company expects to begin commercial sales of its medical device in 2025.

“We are very excited to be backing Neurobell as they set out on bringing a truly transformative and ground-breaking neonatal monitoring device to market, which will impact the survival and long-term neurological outcomes of tens of thousands of babies in critical care,” said Richard Watson, managing partner at Furthr VC.

“We are highly impressed by the founding team and what they have achieved to date in UCC prior to spinning out. They have a very clear regulatory, clinical and commercial plan for launching the product, and I’m really look forward to working closely with them on this journey.”

NeuroBell estimates that approximately 2m newborns worldwide suffer from brain injuries at birth. The company expects its device to have a significant impact on the health outcomes of babies who are receiving additional medical care following a traumatic birth. It could also have a considerable impact on financial burden of claims against the state. In Ireland, catastrophic birth injuries account for the single most costly category of claims for the HSE.

“NeuroBell is a great example of UCC’s ambition to nurture entrepreneurial talent, with Dr O’Sullivan having participated in multiple business support programmes hosted by UCC Innovation including the SPRINT Accelerator and IGNITE start-up incubation programmes,” said Dr Sally Cudmore, Director, UCC Innovation.

“The significant investment that the team has secured is testament to a strong leadership team and innovative technology. As a Limited Partner in the University Fund II managed by Atlantic Bridge, UCC is delighted to see that fund invest in NeuroBell and their mission to develop technology that will have a significant impact on newborns’ brain health.”

Main image (from left): Dr Mark O’Sullivan, Co-founder & CEO, NeuroBell; Colm Murphy, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, NeuroBell; and Dr Alison O’Shea, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer at Neurobell.

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