Recapping Our Eye-Care Innovation Conference in London

Photo Credit: Megan Benson

On Tuesday, 31 January, the second accelerator program for EyeFocus came to a close with our Eye-Care Innovation Conference. The capacity crowd gathered at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Prince Phillip House to hear from a wide array of innovators and experts in the health care, investment, business and tech fields.

The Panels

Photo Credit: Megan BensonThe day began with panelists Robin Spinks, John Worsfold, Florence Orban, Chris Jenkins and Alan Tinger focusing on how to translate innovation into what people need and use. We had three leading UK charities represented – RNIB, RSBC, and the Thomas Pocklington Trust – and they discussed how they use innovation and technology to help people live with and manage their conditions.

Following that, we heard from leading experts in the investment field describing the range of investment approaches from impact to purely commercial, and how the two can converge to create for-profit, commercial investments with social outcomes. The panel featured Chris Mairs, Paul Miller, Lennart Hergel, Savvas Neophytou, Katrina Cruz, representing Ananda, ClearlySo, Bethnal Green Ventures and DeepBridge Capital. Our third panel of the day focused on commercialisation and how to take ideas to the marketplace. Professor Chris Dainty, Catalina Cernica, Tram Trinh and Matt Hartley explored the journey startups must make in order to be successful.

Photo Credit: Megan BensonAfter lunch, we heard from panelists Ian Jordan, Adebayo Ogunjimi, Louis Clearkin, Steven Hicks and Michael Ter-Berg about the opportunities and obstacles faced from spinning out of universities. The group featured eye-care startups who have spun out of universities and clinical settings. They discussed their experiences building a company from this point, as well as the opportunities and obstacles faced along their journeys of going from a research project to a fully fledged business.

Next we heard from panelists who each face the struggles associated with visual impairment, Paul Bepey, Léonie Watson and Robin Spinks, as well as EyeFocus CEO Toby Stone. They looked at the work being done by RNIB, BBC and the Pacello Group to support the development of cutting-edge technology in accessibility. Our last panel of the day focused on the big business of eye-care. The group, featuring Inga Deakin, Rafiq Hasan, Mark Rogers,Tom Cavanagh and Pearse Keane, discussed how funded startups become big businesses in the eye-care sector.

The Pitches

Attendees had the opportunity to hear about some of the latest innovations in the eye-care industry, including the Quicksee, a device designed by PlenOptika to help users identify their eyeglass prescription with the push of a button; Feel the Route, a digital haptic device developed by FaTHER to help visually impaired people navigate cities; 3Clouds by Yumé, a soothing thermal therapy designed to help relieve dry, puffy and tired eyes; and many more. All of the startups we heard from include:

Thanks for Joining Us!

Photo Credit: Megan BensonThe team at EyeFocus would like to thank everyone for supporting the conference. We’re grateful to everyone who was involved. To see more photos from the event, check out our Flickr or Facebook pages.

 

 

Photo Credit: Megan Benson

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The Confusing World of Amblyopia

Ben and Arthur Senior
Ben and Arthur, with an early prototype vision training app!

Guest blogger: Ben Senior

whatisamblyopia.info is a new resource for the parents of children affected by amblyopia. We like to call them amblyopians. It is run by a small but passionate team, motivated by a parent’s journey. My journey. I am Ben Senior, a systems scientist and entrepreneur with a young son who has amblyopia. Our little family started off confused by what we were seeing. And then we stayed confused by what we were reading, hearing and receiving as medical advice.

Amblyopia is a vision impairment. It is associated with increased social insecurity and disadvantages in distance and depth perception. You may have noticed that amblyopia is a stigmatised condition from the derogatory popular term “lazy eye”.

Amblyopia is not about one eye being lazy at all. It is a complex neurological condition. Current science is still far from reaching a consensus or even definitive understanding of the neurological processes involved. It is an area of active research; important new insights, particularly in the area of visual training, are emerging every year. These new insights ought to be more widely known amongst parents and practitioners.

Our mission is to consolidate what is known and what is currently being researched in a language all parents can understand. Simplified, but not simplistic. Inspirational, rather than insipid. To bring parents, amblyopes and professionals closer together to improve the shared understanding of amblyopia. If nothing else, we hope that parents will discover the wonder and mysteries of the human visual system and give vision training some consideration.

If we can find a way to engage with the global community of amblyopians, our mid-term goal is to further encourage progress in the field of vision training. We aim to do this by bringing about collective participation in a wide-ranging and long-running citizen science experiment to assess the efficacy of different app-based vision training methods. This platform is currently in development.

Our greatest challenge at the moment, now that we are reading our way towards the forefront of the science, is in accurately interpreting the highly domain-specific language and set of assumptions, particularly around experimental design. Although we have generally relevant expertise in cognitive and computational science, we would be grateful for any offers of assistance from within EyeFocus’s scientific community. The occasional Skype chat or email to swat away ambiguities in our understanding would help us finally produce a genuinely useful, readable and trustworthy online resource for amblyopia!

Send us an email at: editor@whatisamblyopia.info

Ben and Arthur

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Mentor Spotlight Series: Anne Kjaer Riechert

anne kjaer riechert eyefocus 2016 mentor

EyeFocus Accelerator would like to introduce Anne Kjaer Riechert, one of the mentors for EyeFocus 2016.

Anne is the Co-founder and CEO of ReDI School of Digital Integration, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping refugees integrate into German society by learning to code. She also has experience managing her own humanitarian project, Kids Have a Dreamwhich organizes workshops to empower youth through drawings and discussions about their dreams for the future. The project has reached over 4,000 young people in 33 countries, and garnered support from organizations such as UNAIDS, Rotary International and Amnesty International.

Even with her myriad accomplishments, including receiving the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship, Anne is most proud of her ability to connect with people from all walks of life and find areas of need that should be addressed.

“We are convinced it’s not only what you know, but who you know if you want to start a new career. That is why networking and community building are core principles at ReDI,” Anne said.

mark zuckerberg redi schoolReDI launched its first two coding programs in February 2016 with an event in Berlin that had as a special guest Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman of Facebook. He had this to say about his experience with ReDI:

“Dealing with the refugee crisis is a huge challenge, and it is inspiring to see people creating opportunities through technology … Germany’s leadership and compassion in the refugee crisis has also become a symbol of what it means to build an inclusive global community, and has set an example for the world.”

As a founder of multiple organizations, Anne has experience building companies from the ground up. Looking back to when she was starting out, she remembers receiving a key piece of advice: “If you want to go fast – go alone. If you want to go far – go together.” She then added that the key to success is to build a strong team.

Anne’s advice to entrepreneurs is to “stop talking about your users – start talking with them! Involve your end-users as much and as early as possible. If possible, co-create your solution with them from Day 1.” For EyeFocus 2016, she hopes to support companies while they find healthcare solutions that will ultimately aid more people in need.

Anne says she enjoys mentoring because she is incredibly curious and wants “to see health innovation ideas help more people.” Specifically, she is interested in scalable solutions for users at the bottom of the pyramid in the developing world – particularly in refugee camps.

Join EyeFocus 2016 to meet Anne and our other great mentors.

Sign Up for Our Eye-Care Innovation Conference

EyeFocus will be ending it’s second accelerator program on January 31 with a one-day conference to explore the future of eye-care technology. The event will provide an opportunity for members of our ecosystem to network and collaborate and gather experts from a wide range of med-tech fields to explore the ways new technologies can make life better for people with vision problems.

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What’s Coming Up in January?

EyeFocus Eye-Care Innovation Conference

EyeFocus is holding a one-day conference about eye-care innovation to end the second accelerator program. The conference is replacing the traditional demo day, and will go beyond startups pitching to investors to also present the ecosystem EyeFocus has built and the knowledge we have gained in eye-care innovation. The day will be a mix of networking, education and information for people working in eye-care, health tech and startups.

We are sponsored by Bayer, and have partnered with the world-famous Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) as well as the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAENG) to bring together thought leaders from across the eye-care spectrum for a unique event in central London.

Click here to learn more about the Eye-Care Innovation Conference.

EyeFocus Meetup & Pitch-off Events in Cambridge and Liverpool

In January 2017, EyeFocus will be holding two Meetup and Pitch-off events that will focus on bringing together eye-care innovators from Cambridge and Liverpool.

Our events will feature panel discussions from experts in our network, followed by the opportunity to pitch your idea, startup, research or business. These events provide an opportunity for participants to become a part of EyeFocus’s global network and be included in future EyeFocus events.

These events are open to anyone who is interested in innovation and healthcare, including startups, scientists, medics and medical students, as well as people with vision and eye-care conditions, investors, corporates and NGOs.

If you have a great idea in eye-care innovation, EyeFocus is interested in your ideas. Whether you are still in the idea stage, or with a fully fledged company, we would like to invite you to pitch your ideas to a room full of potential investors, collaborators and partners. As a part of the EyeFocus network, we would be able to help provide feedback and support.

Click here to register for the Cambridge event.

Click here to register for the Liverpool event.

Happy Holidays from the EyeFocus Team

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Recapping the RLSB & EyeFocus Idea Hack

On Thursday, November 24, EyeFocus joined forces with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) at their offices in London to host an idea hack focused on encouraging innovation in post-diagnosis support for young people.

The aim of the event was to create diverse teams where people of diverse backgrounds could share their unique perspectives with others whom they may not normally interact. The event was divided into three different parts: an expert panel discussion, an idea hack and a pitching session.

The Expert Panel

expert eye care panelOur panel included four experts from the top of their respective fields: Dr. Rafiq Hasan, the VP and Global Head of Ophthalmology at Bayer Health Care; Florence Orban, the Director of Corporate Development at RLSB; Jude Thompson, the Education and Quality Director/Principal at Dorton College; and Matt Leverington, a visually impaired alumni of the RLSB Youth Forum.

The topics they discussed included:

  • Drug Compliance and Treatment Management: What are the problems newly diagnosed people and parents of diagnosed children face when managing their new medication and treatment?
  • The Importance of Practical and Emotional Support for the Whole Family: How can parents learn to cope with their child’s diagnosis in order to support and encourage their development? What role does the family play in supporting a visually impaired child?
  • Post-Diagnosis Development and Play: How do young blind and partially sighted children play? Which toys work and don’t work for helping them learn and increase mobility?
  • Losing Your Sight as a Young Person: How can older children adjust to visual impairment? What steps are needed to help young people relearn necessary skills?

The Idea Hack

The event attendees represented a very broad and high level of cross-sector eye-care companies:

  • Peek Vision
  • Imperial College
  • Royal College of Arts
  • Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • Pocklington Trust
  • Hackney Learning Trust
  • HealthForge
  • Health Foundry
  • 01Booster Accelerator, Tokyo
  • RLSB
  • GCA Health PR
  • Okimo (previously Mr. Patch)

The Pitches

Some of our top pitches included:

“Find My Friends” – Networking is an issue, from finding your friends in a playground to working the room at a conference. “Find My Friends” is a name badge a visually impaired person can wear that connects with a phone so they can find their friends in social settings – this could be anything from a child looking for his friends on the playground to an adult trying to navigate a networking event.

“Uber for Guides” ­– Whether you need guiding to the station for your first day at work, need to get to John Lewis to go Christmas shopping for an hour, or maybe you are headed to stay with a friend in Manchester and need a guide through Euston Station, this app could help a visually impaired person book someone to help them navigate everything from public transportation to shopping centers.

“Quick Diagnosis” – Health apps, including Apple Health, already cover a number of functions, but what is lacking is eye health monitoring and tracking data points. The purpose of the “Quick Diagnosis” app is notify people when/if their eye health is deteriorating, as well as when to make an appointment. It could also include a tool to monitor existing degenerative conditions.

What’s Up Next for EyeFocus?

eyefocus eye care innovation conference

EyeFocus is holding a one-day conference about eye-care innovation to end the second accelerator program. The conference is replacing the traditional demo day, and will go beyond startups pitching to investors to also present the ecosystem EyeFocus has built and the knowledge we have gained in eye-care innovation. The day will be a mix of networking, education and information for people working in eye-care, health tech and startups.

We are sponsored by Bayer, and have partnered with the world-famous Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) as well as the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAENG) to bring together thought leaders from across the eye-care spectrum for a unique event in central London.

Click here to learn more about the Eye-Care Innovation Conference.

When

Where

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Royal Academy of Engineering

Prince Philip House

3 Carlton House Terrace

London SW1Y 5DG

United Kingdom

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Rotterdam Meetup & Pitching Session

rotterdam-promo-banner

EyeFocus is pleased to announce that we are working with the World Association of Eye Hospitals to organize an eye-care event as part of the EIT Health Startup & SME Day in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  The goal of the event is to engage participants with other valuable startups, SMEs and EIT Health partners.

The EyeFocus session will provide participants an opportunity to pitch in front of leading eye-care specialists, including Tjeerd de Faber, President European Society of Ophthalmology & Ophthalmologist in the Rotterdam Eye Hospital. We will be joined by Netherlands-based startups Easee and EyeSense, who will each be pitching for our panel.

Easee provides a full, unassisted online eye exam. All you need is 20 minutes, a computer and a smart phone. This offers users the opportunity to get their eyes tested from the comfort of their own home or office. Test results are verified by registered optometrists or ophthalmologists. Prescriptions are then delivered digitally. Easee’s service helps people save waiting time, travel and costs.

EyeSense, developed by ID Labs, is an Artificial Intelligence application that helps blind and visually impaired people discover their surroundings while also enhancing human-to-human connection.

Agenda

 

Thursday, December 8

1:30-5 p.m.

 

EIT Health Day
5-6 p.m.

 

EyeFocus Meetup & Pitching Session
6-9 p.m.

 

Networking & Refreshments

(See full agenda here.)

Location

Cambridge Innovation Center, Stationsplein 45, 3013 AK Rotterdam, Netherlands

 

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EyeFocus Visits India

aravind entrance

On November 17, EyeFocus embarked on a fascinating trip to India. During the visit, we met with our partners at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, one of the most important and innovative eye-care hospitals in the world; we also judged eye-care startups pitching at the Startup India Rocks Finale conference in Bangalore.

Partner Visit with Aravind

unnamed-1Aravind is an exemplary global example of how to deliver quality healthcare to everyone – both rich and poor. Our founder, Tobias Stone, visited the hospital to meet with EyeFocus Mentor Thulasiraj Ravilla. During the tour of their facilities, he met with some of Aravind’s innovators and discussed some current issues in the eye-care field around the world, including the fact that many patients have trouble self-administering eye drops. The team has explored a number of solutions, and has now created a simple 3D-printing device that holds any eye drop bottle in the correct position, thus ensuring the drops hit the correct part of the eye.

The visit by EyeFocus led to additional networking opportunities with Aurolab, a company based at Aravind. Aurolab was founded by Aravind to provide high-quality products for cataract operations to NGOs and hospitals around the world. Aurolab has grown considerably since its conception, and is now able to provide low-cost, quality products worldwide. They have developed a kit with sutures, lenses and eye drops to costs only $10, thus furthering Aravind’s commitment to low-cost, quality healthcare.

unnamed-2Aravind have perfected a unique model of healthcare that allows them to treat nearly half of their patients for free – this includes treatment and operations. There are two hospitals within Aravind – the free hospital and the paying hospital. While the facilities differ superficially in terms of comfort and design, the quality of the healthcare is the same across the system, offering affordable or free eye care to those who cannot afford it.

View Footage From Aravind

EyeFocus Joined #STIR2016 Finale in Bangalore

stir2016

In Bangalore, EyeFocus was part of the #STIR2016 Finale Event. We were thrilled to see pitches from our participating startups – some of whom had flown from Mumbai and Delhi. The programs placed a great emphasis on digital braille, as well as accessibility for blind and illiterate people. The winner of the pitching competition was the Oswald Foundation, whose founders range from just 18 years old. The company began with a product designed to provide a reading solution for people with Dyslexia.

These startups and the innovators from Aravind will join the EyeFocus program to receive mentoring and further support from our network of partners and mentors. They will also receive introductions with our sponsor, Bayer, to talk about how to develop products into the wider eye-care market.

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Join Us in Bangalore for #STIR2016

bangalore-promo-announcement

EyeFocus will be joining forces with Startup India Rocks! for the #STIR2016 Finale event in Bangalore this Friday and Saturday, November 18-19. The event will feature world-renowned speakers and investors who will focus on everything from healthcare innovation to technology solutions and business planning. This is the first international event for cross-border investment, bringing together the best minds from global start-up ecosystems. EyeFocus 2016 participants will have the opportunity to take part in product showcase and pitch competition, as well as take part in a panel focused on eye-care innovation.

For the showcase, which takes place on Friday, participants will give a soft pitch for entrepreneurs to talk about their innovation, and will be judged by a panel of corporates, strategic partners and media. Following the showcase, we will take part in an expert panel to discuss everything from scouting interesting products, mentoring, the social impact of eye care innovation, and the investment opportunities of med-tech and healthcare startups from an investor’s perspective. The event itself is a good way for companies to meet investors and potentially raise funds for their endeavors.

Eye-care startups that are pitching at STIR 2016 will be invited to join the EyeFocus Accelerator program. They will also have the opportunity on Saturday to meet with EyeFocus CEO, Toby Stone, as well as some of our local mentors.

If you’re interested in attending the #STIR2016 Finale event in Bangalore, register here!

Event Details

When: November 18-19
Where: SAP Labs Campus, #138, EPIP Zone, Whitefield, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560066, India
Partner: Startup India Rocks!

EyeFocus Is Going to Aravind

In addition to participating in the STIR 2016 Finale event in Bangalore, EyeFocus is spending the day Thursday, November 17, with our partners at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India.

Aravind is acknowledged as the largest provider of eye care in the world. It is also known for its sustainable, scalable and replicable model of service delivery to both rich and poor people. Aravind Eye Hospital has won such awards as the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, India’s Most Innovative Hospital Award at India Healthcare Awards, and the FICCI award for the Best Private Hospital in India.

Our visit will focus on meeting with doctors and professors, as well as EyeFocus Mentor R.D. Thulasiraj to learn what the latest areas of interest are in eye health, as well as what’s needed in eye-care innovation.

Stay tuned to hear more about our visit at Aravind Eye Hospital.

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Coming Next – EyeFocus & RLSB Idea Hack!

RLSB idea hack

EyeFocus is partnering with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) to host an idea hack encouraging innovation beyond diagnosis support. No child should grow up to be poor or lonely just because they have impaired vision. The focus of the idea hack is to help young people living with eye diseases and blindness as well as their families find sources of support so they’re able to grow up with a better life.

The event will feature expert panelists, who will each discuss different topics related to sight loss and post-diagnosis support. Our topics will include:

Speaker: Dr. Rafiq Hasan
Topic:
Drug Compliance and Treatment Management

Questions:

  • What problems do newly diagnosed people face with managing their medication and treatment?
  • What problems are caused by non-compliance with medication?

Speaker: Ed Anderton
Topic:
Development and Play Post Diagnosis

Questions:

  • How do young blind and partially sighted children play?
  • Which toys work and don’t work?
  • What is the serious side of play for blind children (e.g. stimulation to increase mobility, learning, etc.)?

Speaker: Jude Thompson
Topic:
The Importance of Practical and Emotional Support for the Whole Family

Questions:

  • How can parents learn to cope with their child’s diagnosis in order to support and encourage their child’s development?
  • What role does the family play in supporting a visually impaired child?

Speaker: Matt Leverington
Topic:
Losing Your Sight as a Young Person

Questions:

  • How can older children adjust to visual impairment?
  • What steps need to be taken to help young people relearn necessary skills?

The Aim of the Idea Hack

The goal of the EyeFocus Idea Hack is to create diverse teams with a variety of different perspectives, thus encouraging cross-sector dialogue between people who may not normally interact. We want each team to make connections and learn from others in order to develop the ideas discussed in the panel. At the end of the discussion portion, each team will make a pitch for their ideas, coming up with brand names and sales stories. EyeFocus and RLSB will be providing mentoring support for one to two ideas to be developed further through the EyeFocus Accelerator Programme.

Event Details

When: November 24, 17:00-20:00

Where: RLSB Offices, 52-58 Arcola St., Hackney, London, E8 2DJ

Click Here to Register

 

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What’s Happening in November?

EyeFocus 2016 November Events

EyeFocus, the world’s first accelerator and innovation program, is dedicated to bringing together leaders in the eye care and tech fields to create new products and solutions for people who are blind or visually impaired. With that mission in mind, we’re pleased to announce that two events for #EyeFocus2016 will take place this November.

STIR2016 EyeFocus2016 India Bangalore

EyeFocus 2016 India Event in Bangalore

When: November 18-19
Where: #138, EPIP Zone, Whitefield, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560066, India
Partner:  Startup India Rocks!

EyeFocus will be joining forces with Startup India Rocks! for the #STIR2016 Finale event in Bangalore, India. The event will feature world-renowned speakers and investors who will focus on everything from healthcare innovation to technology solutions and business planning.

#EyeFocus2016 participants will take part in both a product showcase and a pitch competition. For the showcase, participants will give a soft pitch for entrepreneurs to talk about their innovation, and will be judged by a panel of corporates, strategic partners and media. The competition will allow businesses to pitch to raise funds in front of a panel of investors.

If you’re an eye care startup and want to pitch in the showcase or competition, get in touch with us at contact@eyefocus.co.

If you’re interested in attending the entire #STIR2016 Finale event in Bangalore, register here!

 

RLSB EyeFocus 2016 Idea Hack

EyeFocus & RLSB Idea Hack for Eye Care Innovation

When: November 24, 5.00-8:30p.m.
Where: 52-58 Arcola Street, London E8 2DJ, United Kingdom
Partner: RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People)

Vision impairment in children and young people can lead to a host of difficulties, not just for those who are diagnosed, but also for their families.  EyeFocus is teaming up with RLSB to host an idea hack aimed at encouraging innovation in post-diagnosis support. The event will feature expert panelists in the field of eye care. Panelists will discuss everything from treatment management and emotional support to development and play post-diagnosis. After the panels, attendees will break into teams that will work together to share ideas and come up with solutions to some of the proposed issues those with vision impairment face today.

Register for the event here!

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