Question: Edward, please share 1–2 major brain health needs you observe right now whose solution demands a creative and significant tech-enabled innovation.
Answer: We need to target depression, stress and fatigue in a quantifiable manner (ie. no wellness-like claims, but real data supporting an improvement in the aforementioned indications). Treatments and early detection too.
Also, ways to monitor longitudinal cognitive abilities (ie. person-specific brain function over the course of a number of years). Done on a wider population this could provide insights into the impact of certain external factors such as food, air quality, etc.
Question: And what advice would you give an entrepreneur launching an innovation to address those needs–for the approach to be successful and sustainable?
Answer: Focus on the right model from day one: You need to identify right away the best approach for the opportunity at hand — for example, regulated medical approach vs. general wellness? Both are viable but going from unregulated to regulated is hardly possible whereas the opposite is viable (although creates a risk of off-label use…)
– Edward Kliphuis is an Investment Director with Merck Ventures BV, the Corporate Venture Capital arm of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. He is responsible for the New Businesses fund, which invests globally in transformational ideas driven by great entrepreneurs. The New Businesses fund seeks to invest in strategic opportunities beyond Merck’s current businesses, make cross over investments between businesses and invest in digitization opportunities. The total volume of the corporate venture fund is €300 million. He will serve as a Judge in the first Brainnovations Pitch Contest hosted by the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Brain Enhancement in the Digital Age (December 5–7th, 2017).