Belfast firm BrainWaveBank builds ‘Fitbit for the brain’

Firm teams up with Newry’s First Derivatives to build electroencephalogram data collection

Hotly-tipped Belfast-based BrainWaveBank is keeping things close to home by selecting technology from Newry-headquartered First Derivatives to power its neuroscience platform.

The start-up, which has built what it describes as “a Fitbit for the brain”, said it is to use First Derivatives KX database technology as it seeks to build the world’s largest collection of electroencephalogram (EEG) data.

The company said the tech will allow real-time analytics to be conducted on brainwave activity and to accelerate analysis of aggregated data.

Founded in January 2015 by Ronan Cunningham, Brian Murphy, Siggi Saevarsson and Urs Streidl, BrainWaveBank has developed a number of solutions to track cognitive fitness and spot early signs of dementia.


The company’s technology enables users to track their cognitive health on a daily basis, using a wearable device and a smartphone app. It then uses advanced analytics and machine-learning tools to detect possible signs of cognitive decline and empower people to make simple lifestyle changes to encourage healthy aging of the brain.

Seed funding

BrainWaveBank secured £1 million (€1.1 million) in seed funding from investors earlier this year to build out its platform and is currently seeking to raise a further £3 million (€3.3 million).

The company, whose solutions have been developed by a team of neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, machine-learning and big data analytics specialists, is initially targeting the cognitive health assessment market, which is expected to be worth $8.1 billion (€6.8 billion) by 2021, according to analysts MarketsandMarkets.

In addition, it is also looking at the £800 million (€898 million) per annum clinical trial support market to help pharma companies identify candidates for drugs targeted at the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

Currently, 90 per cent of people who suffer from cognitive health disorders are diagnosed late or not at all. Early detection and intervention through solutions such as those developed by BrainWaveBank, can delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders and significantly reduce the cost of care.

First Derivatives is one of only two Northern Ireland-listed companies. It employs more than 1,800 people worldwide and reported revenues of £151.7 million (€170.2 million) in the year to February 2017.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist