80 insomniacs needed for Sheffield sleep device trial

80 insomniacs will trial a Sheffield firm’s new sleep device after it landed £575,000 funding.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 6:00 am

SleepCogni, with Sheffield Hallam University, is enrolling patients for a study which will provide data on how it tackles insomnia and hopefully pave the way for commercialisation.

The SleepCogni comprises a stand and hoop which produce sounds and lights designed to send people to sleep, while sensors and artificial intelligence aim to optimise ‘biofeedback algorithms’.

The first results from the trial are expected early next year.

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From left: Dr Maan van de Werken, Richard di Benedetto and Richard Mills.

The firm, based at the Kroto Innovation Centre on Broad Lane, has raised the funds from shareholders and a new Innovate UK biomedical catalyst award. It brings total funding to £1.7m to date, including two previous grants from Innovate UK, part of the government.

Founder and chief executive Richard Mills, said he was delighted by the belief and enthusiasm shown by suppliers, shareholders and specialists.

He added: “We are focusing in the coming months on achieving three key deliverables, US Food and Drug Administration clearance, clinical trials and commercial desire. We expect our business to be ready for a larger investment round mid 2020.”

The SleepCogni comes with an app and a wearable.

Mr Mills, who invented the SleepCogni after suffering from insomnia for 10 years, says one in three people struggle with sleep. But drugs can have side effects and don’t tackle the underlying problem. The most successful treatments are through cognitive and behavioural interventions - but they are provided outside the bedroom.

Chief scientific officer, Dr Maan van de Werken, said the SleepCogni provided a credible solution to people who struggled to initiate sleep.

She added: “Our trial is a combination of gathering information on our intervention, our physiological and behavioural assessment of sleep in particular during the wake-sleep transition, and the user experience of our device. We are open to new scientific collaborations in this field.”

The company is led by chairman and investor Richard di Benedetto, president of Aetna International, one of the world’s largest health insurance companies and one of the first to incentivise policyholders to sleep better.

It is hoped he will help parent company Braintrain2020 crack the US and insurance markets.