This PhD student developed a VR tool to help stroke patients recover

VR entertainment, under CC license

Eve Gregoriou first started NeuroVirt to help stroke patients reach their full recovery potential.

By combining her passion for gaming with her PhD research at the intersection of neuroscience and technology, she developed a tool that aims to improve success rates for stroke patients in need of upper body rehabilitation by using virtual reality and a data glove.

The technology itself is simple: A virtual reality headset that immerses patients into engaging games that have been designed and calibrated based on their needs.

For instance, a patient might be playing VR basketball in order to execute shoulder exercises and specific wrist movements. At the same time, the technology assesses and tracks metrics of impairment and recovery to help doctors visualise their patient’s progress, even remotely, saving them time and costs.

“It’s a way to sustain the motivation of patients who might otherwise grow tired of training through repetitive tasks, and at the same time automate healthcare processes,” Gregoriou says. “We’re unique globally because we create immersive realities for the rehabilitation space and we can measure all types of hand impairment.”

Gregoriou joined Conception X nine months ago, when looking for accelerator programmes that would help her fast-track the idea to market. She had noticed how patients through the NHS system don’t get enough time to rehabilitate at the hospital and she was keen to get a solution into their hands without delay.

At first, she was skeptical because of not having a business background. “But the best thing is to go for it, because eventually you will gain the knowledge through training and questions that you need to address to develop your business,” Gregoriou says.

At Conception X, Gregoriou found a sense of community and was inspired by other founders’ creativity.

“Conception X provides you with all the necessary knowledge and training you need to turn your idea into a venture. It’s quite challenging, and it’s very interactive. They give you many opportunities to speak to the public or online, which pushes you outside of your comfort zone so that you feel comfortable to communicate more effectively,” Gregoriou says.

“One thing I’ve realised is you never know when you’re going to meet someone through pushing yourself to network. I was contacting a lot of people that were relevant and one of them ended up being our business advisor. Conception X helped us a lot to get to where we are now through innovation training and knowledge.”

Six months away from finishing her PhD, Gregoriou hopes to raise investment and turn NeuroVirt into a full-time effort. For her, the focus is on the positive impact this will have on patients and the way healthcare is administered, with the ultimate goal of reimagining rehabilitation.

After winning two awards at Conception X’s Demo Day 2020 earlier this month, she plans to start investing in product development.

“Winning both awards validated the fact that people could see my vision, and that it was communicated effectively,” she says. “It helped to know we were on the right track.”

Gregoriou pitching live at CX’s Demo Day

Eve Gregoriou won the Galaxy Award for impactful research projects and the audience Star Award after pitching live at Conception X’s Demo Day 2020. Gregoriou also received support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise and won a competitive Innovate UK Award.

Venture builders creating deeptech startups from leading research labs and PhD programmes around the UK. conceptionx.org