Doctoral students win Spark prize with BabyAware

03 November 2014

BabyAware were awarded the Uniservices Commercialisation prize at this year’s Spark $100k Challenge Grand Prizegiving event on 22 October. The team, which is comprised of PhD candidates Hamid Abbasi, Alireza Nejati and Christopher Lear, suggest that "a method to automatically detect subtle brain activities in newborn babies would provide an exceptionally effective way to identify developing brain injury. This will allow clinicians to more rapidly administer neuroprotective treatments and help these babies lead a normal life."

Baby Aware at the Spark 100k Challenge Award Presentations
BabyAware left-right: Hamid Abbasi (Team Lead), Andy Shenk (UniServices CEO and BabyAware mentor during Spark), Christopher Lear (team member), Alireza Nejati (team member), Graham Scown (Return on Science). Photographer: David St George

BabyAware is cross-disciplinary team. Hamid and Alireza are members of the Department of Engineering Science, and Christopher, the Department of Physiology. Their scientific advisors are Professors Alistair Gunn and Laura Bennet from the Department of Physiology and Dr Charles Unsworth from the Department of Engineering Science.

The team believe that there is huge potential for this idea to alleviate a significant problem faced by many parents, and say the current project’s results "will open up an exciting new opportunity to diagnose brain injury and will hopefully help prevent debilitating, lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders."

In the lead-up to the prizegiving, BabyAware and the 13 other finalist teams underwent the seven week Spark ‘Launch Pad’ programme, consisting of intensive training, mentoring and weekly workshops, during which they developed their business plans. This was followed by a Dragons’ Den style pitching session to the judges.


BabyAware’s project abstract

Oxygen deprivation around the time of birth is a major cause of life-long disabilities such as cerebral palsy. The good news is that we can now treat this form of brain injury - but treatment must be started within the first six hours of life to be effective. Because of this, clinicians desperately need more rapid ways to tell which babies need to be treated - that's where we come in.

BabyAware is a revolutionary diagnostic software. It analyses brain activity and detects subtle, early signs of brain injury that current devices can't even see. Ultimately what this means is that BabyAware is able to detect brain injury when there is still time to treat and still time to change the life of that child. Saving babies' lives - that's what BabyAware is.


For more information

The team

The advisers