Introduction to CogniScent, EpiQMax and Hearable Labs – finalists of the second round of Headstart Awards

CogniScent, EpiQMax and Hearable Labs are the next three finalists of the EIT Health Germany Headstart Awards. Let’s find out more about them.


Web profiles: LinkedIn Twitter

Product/service idea in 50 words or less
CogniScent is a software-based and AI-driven test for early detection of Parkinson’s based on early risk factors and symptoms, where smell plays a key role. It provides users with a personal risk profile as well as potential next steps.

Origins of the idea.
Both Kai and Micol have worked in the health and scent related field before founding CogniScent. They are passionate about using their academic and business knowledge to improve the quality of life of people through an easy to access technology.

Key differentiated features of product/service.
Our test is non-invasive, quick and reliable. It is mainly self-administered. The core of our solution is our machine learning model. Besides patenting the ruleset of the algorithm, we can extend our test to multiple diseases. Furthermore, thanks to our scientific network, we have access to data from different sources and as soon as our product is on the market, we will build our own dataset.

Reasons for applying to Headstart.
The program will help us to accelerate our path to market by supporting our MVP validation, speeding up our regulatory activities and by testing the product in the market. The broad international EIT network will be highly beneficial to provide additional scientific insights and collaboration opportunities.

Future plans and ambitions. What’s next?
As next steps, we will complement our Parkinson’s risk assessment with tailored recommendations and interventions based on users’ risk profiles. Afterward, we will extend our test to other neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. Our vision is to become the leading company for the detection and management of neurological diseases in their early stages.


Web profiles: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Product/service idea in 50 words or less:
EpiQMAx analyses individual molecules to enable truly personalized medicine. This is done by measuring epigenetic traits. These traits are affected by the environment and influence conversely many different diseases. This results in a unique fingerprint, that can be resolved by the EpiQMAx technology for early detection or companion diagnostics.

Origins of the idea
EpiQMAx is a spin-off from the LMU University in Munich. Due to many years of research in epigenetics and a high number of collaborations within the academic area, we realized the emerging trend of personalized medicine based on epigenetics. But the industry is still lagging profound tools for the streamlined development of such drugs. This niche is now filled by EpiQMAx in order to provide a better and quicker platform technology for those drug development trials.


Key differentiated features of product/service
Current epigenetic drug studies are hampered by unspecific epigenetic antibodies. We overcome these problems with offering a highly multiplexed platform that reduces overall costs by a factor of 5 compared to regular analytics. This is achieved by our proprietary KIT that reduces experimental time by a factor of 4 and offers a cost-efficient preparation of samples from cells, tissue, saliva and liquid biopsies. By means of mass spectrometry, we are the only service provider for the quantitative analysis of epigenetic modifications. Finally, our own innovative software programs provide an intuitive and visual reporting of the results.

Reasons for applying to Headstart
The EIT Headstart program is ideally suited for us to shorten the time-to-market of our in-house saliva epigenetics-KIT. For this, we need to substantiate the benefits that the product brings to our customers. This will increase the possibility of attracting further private investment. Overall, we see a huge overlap between our KITs purpose and the EIT Health objectives of healthy living, active ageing and improved health care. With an epigenetic KIT, we can decipher the influence of the environment on the health status of individuals. This clearly helps for fostering healthy lives by introducing behavioral changes and making these changes detectable.

Future plans and ambitions. What’s next?
Our current development focuses on the easy and quick detection of (pre-)diabetes with an epigenetic KIT. Next, we aim for the application for further indications. This means, that the saliva-KIT is not only suited for diabetes diagnosis and subsequent therapeutics but also for a quick and easy assessment of further indications. As shown by literature, epigenetic modifications impact on a number of diseases such as arteriosclerosis and many metabolic diseases. Further data collection combined with artificial intelligence will enable us to investigate our KIT performance for this kind of diseases and make it available for further indications.


Web profiles:

  • Product/service idea in 50 words or less:
    73% of people in Europe who need a hearing aid don’t have one. Filterbuds are a set of wireless, in-ear headphones that have built-in hearing enhancement. They remove the stigma from hearing technology, shifting the paradigm from ‘assistive hearing’ to ‘augmented hearing’.

Origins of the idea:
The team has worked on a number of innovative hearing and headphone products in the past, so we have a good understanding of what’s possible. We observed that people are demanding more control over what they hear, e.g. in open-plan offices and while traveling. We saw this as an opportunity to re-invent hearing technology for the masses. Creating technology that provides benefits for everyone will inevitably remove the stigma for those who need to use it to compensate for hearing loss.

Key differentiated product features:
Filterbuds is the first consumer-grade hearing health device that is comfortable, discreet and functions as a set of high-end headphones. We believe that normalizing hearing technology by applying it to problems that affect everyone will remove its stigma and keep our ageing society healthier for longer.

Reasons for applying to Headstart:
We have applied to Headstart to gain funding to produce our miniaturized hardware prototype and important milestone towards entering the market. We already have the team, the technical partners and the industry contacts in place, we just need some funding to get to this next milestone.

Future plans & ambitions. What’s next?
We’re on a mission to enable the next generation of hearing health devices to be high quality, innovative and usable. We have a number of exciting products in the pipeline that will further this mission.