Startup behind wearable device for detecting cognitive decline win 54-hour pitch marathon

Eduardo Jorgensen, Co-founder of Solus Health (pictured third from right)

The brains behind medtech startup Solus Health outpitched 46 other founding teams to secure victory at the 54-hour Creative Tech competition, held at Techstar’s recent Startup Weekend in Brisbane (2-5 March).

 The winning startup is developing a shoe sole embedded with technology that detects changes in the gait of the wearer’s feet, with the aim being to help identify the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or dementia. Solus Health Project leader and co-founder Dr Eduardo Jorgensen told Dynamic Business that his startup builds on research, first unveiled almost six years ago, claiming that a change in a person’s gait in their walk could indicate early cognitive decline.

“Despite this research, and the rise of wearable tech, there are no viable products out there that address the problem of early detection of dementia,” he said. “Typically, patients need to experience symptoms and then be tested for the disease, by that point the outcomes of preventive intervention diminishes. It seems like such a simple solution to put a sensor in people’s shoes, but with the right applications and analysis it could save lives.

The judging panel, selected by startup accelerator QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), consisted of Professor Margaret Sheil, Brett Chenoweth, Michelle Eastwell, Cole Wilkinson and Garry Visontay. CEA’s Acting CEO Mark Gustowski said that the Solus Health team stood out above the field owing to their drive to solve a ‘real world problem’.

“The team had an incredible vision to better our community and demonstrated that they were able to validate their market opportunity not just nationally but internationally,” Gustowski said.

“They formed a well-rounded team with deep domain knowledge spanning hipsters, hackers and hustlers and showcased a standup pitch that received an almost unanimous vote from our judging panel”.

Regarding the future of Solus Health, Dr Jorgensen said the startup’s next steps will include sourcing more strategic partnerships to drive their business forward.  The founding team took home a prize pack of technology and in-kind services valued at $30,000. They have already received support from the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, received a letter of intent from a Spanish hospital and engaged an Australian medical entity that has expressed interest in collaborating.