Christopher McCann founded “snap40” which proposed a patient health early warning system for the hospital and community. Christopher explained: “Research has shown that up to 35% of in-hospital cardiac arrests are preceded by warning signs that are missed by stretched healthcare staff. Snap40 has developed a wearable medical device that continuously monitors the health of a patient across a wide range of indicators and then analyses this data in real-time to accurately detect the early warning signs of deterioration. Notifications are then pushed to healthcare staff through a mobile device, allowing interventions to be put in place earlier. This will save lives, as well as reduce healthcare expenditure and stress on resources.
As dehydration is a significant problem in hospitals, accounting for approximately 83,000 bed days at a cost of £0.95 billion a year in the UK alone, Snap40 wanted to incorporate an ultrasound measurement into their medical device for non-invasively monitoring hydration levels in a patient.
The knowledge, expertise and facilities for producing wearable ultrasound sensors were available at the University of the West of Scotland's Sensors and Imaging Group, who have a long history of developing ultrasound transducers. In particular, Dr. Dave Hughes, a Research Fellow at UWS, has devised a novel method for rapidly fabricating ultrasound transducers that operate at high frequency, vastly simplifying the process.
With the collaborative project between Snap40 and UWS being funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher and administered by Interface, UWS will demonstrate the feasibility of using Snap40’s current transducers for contact measurements of properties of skin with a) coupling gel, b) minimal coupling and c) no coupling. The development of the Ultrasound sensor will feed directly into the product design of the snap40 device, with ongoing knowledge exchange between the University and the company.
Wearable ultrasound is an emerging field that this project will drive. Currently, ultrasound measurements through skin are undertaken using large commercial scan systems whereas this project demonstrates the use of a UWS developed ultrasound transducer for portable, wearable, low-power systems. No existing wearable device on the market is able to monitor hydration levels. This will be a significant move forward in the field towards the commercialisation of something completely novel and highly valuable.
The company will benefit via the addition of new value to its proposition, increased ability to sell their product and the revenue generated from this. It will also allow the company to generate a new barrier to competitors entering the market and increase the attractiveness of the company to private equity investment.
The Scottish Economy will benefit through the creation of new jobs, as well as the development of a high growth, high value business headquartered in Edinburgh.
We have built a great relationship with UWS across two projects so far and look forward to continuing to build this relationship in the future. We have gained access to world class research expertise and are now looking at the potential to integrate a brand new, completely novel sensor into our device that will have real benefits for patients, health services and snap40. – Christopher McCann, Snap40
The funding allowed me to kick-start a collaboration between my research group and snap40. It was the first time that I had been awarded funding for a commercialisation project. As an early stage researcher, it was very useful in demonstrating to me how companies and universities can work together with regard to knowledge exchange, intellectual property and commercial needs. The project was a success in that we were able to demonstrate our technology for the snap40 application. We intend to apply for follow-on funding to move the research forward and carry on the snap40/UWS collaboration. – Dr Dave Hughes, UWS
In October 2016 Snap40 secured £2 million in Seed funding from investment firm Par Equity.
In March 2017, the company was awarded a £1 million SBRI healthcare development contract by NHS England. The contract supports Snap40 to further scale its technology and provides critical validation funding for two clinical studies with NHS Fife and with NHS Lothian's Emergency Medicine Research Group Edinburgh (EMERGE) based in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.