August 2016 – ten months after they attended MedTech Startp School, they made the science2start ideas competition rock but blew their EXIST application. The guys from EOG Patch know that success and failure are both essential variables to shape their own company. In the interview Felix Bernhard proves a relaxed attitude towards small defeats and talks about the next steps.

Filling the missing gaps

Felix Bernhard, Dr. Friedemann Bunjes, Dr. Holger Hengel and Kalpana Rani want to detect brain diseases like Alzhzeimer’s and Parkinson’s earlier and treat them better. For eye movements tell a lot about a patient’s health status, they develop a patch that measures them and tells whether a patient is likely to suffer from a neurogenerative disease – the EOG Smartpatch.

We were with you when you won Science2Start in July. Again, congratulations on that! What did you win the price for?

Science2Start is an ideas competition by BioRegio Stern. It supports upcoming startup ideas, especially from the medical field and the field of bioengineering. It goes out to innovative ideas which aim at building a startup business in science. We are extremely proud that we gained the first price and €2000 with our idea.

EOG science2start winners

The winners of the science2start ideas competition 2016: 1st prize: “EOG Patch” from Dr. Holger Hengel , Felix Bernhard, Dr. Friedemann Bunjes and Kalpana Rani | 2nd prize: “fermentative production process for D-phenylglycine” from Dr. Yvonne Mast | 3rd prize: “Immune Modulating Orf Virus – IMOrf” from Melanie Mueller, Dr. Alena Reguzova, Ferdinand Salomon, Dr. Thomas Feger, Dr. Hanns-Joachim Rziha and Dr. Ralf Amann

What does this award mean to you and your team?

Though we received the price for our idea, I think it represents as well the effort and the success of our incubator, the MedTech Startup School in Tübingen. For our team the price is a very important motivation to proceed with our project and to get further funding, for example for the realisation of our first validation study.

EOG Smartpatch – team members

EOG Feilx Bernhard
EOG Friedemann Bunjes
EOG Kalpana Rani
EOG Holger Hengel
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You finished our incubator programme in October 2015. What happened since then?

It was a huge step to eventually finalise our hardware. In cooperation with mükra electronic, a hardware company in Reutlingen, we found a nice tool to finally start our studies. We had some first measurements on ourselves which already showed promising results. Based on the results of this pilot study we can go further now and make a validation study with healthy controls.
Another important step is that we applied for funding: We submitted an EXIST application. Unfortunately, it failed, but this is kind of part of the progress. Now we are even more motivated and hope that our next applications for funding will be more successful. Therefore, we now proceed with the first validation study. This study was actually one of the key points that were missing so far. The failure of our EXIST application was at least a valuable experience for us that made us aware of our current position. Now we know exactly which gaps to fill and that is what we do right now.

What are your next steps going to be?

Pretty soon we are going to start collecting data from healthy individuals. Regarding characteristics like age and gender, this group of healthy people has to be very similar to the entity of ill people that we target with our tool. We also try to finish our ethical application for the ethics committee. After this we will start the validation study. With the results of this study we can validate whether the data we collected match the measurements we are looking for. Once we have the valid data we can ask more detailed questions about specific diseases. Our final aim is to find a biomarker for neurodegenrative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or other cognition associated deficits like the neglect syndrome or REM sleep behaviour disorder. The latter are in our range of interest as well, we even founded two additional labs to do more research on these diseases. One lab is led by prof. Born and the other one by prof. Karnath from the Hertie Institute. To have two additional labs is a great success for us and I am looking forward to start over with them once we have finished the validation study.

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In one year from now – where do you hope to be then?

This is very difficult to predict, because we thought we would have gained funding by now. The first approach was not successful but in one year, I think, we will have funding for the study and we’ll definitely be done with the validation. Hopefully, we will be able to answer more specific questions then, for example the question about which disease would make sense to target. That would be perfect! I’m very optimistic about it.

Fingers crossed! Thank you for the interview!

EOG - Felix Bernhard

Felix Bernhard from EOG Smartpatch

© Eva Oswald, Lukas Radwan