Business Boost | 20 July 2018 - by Ian Midgley
Hull tech cluster creates perfect environment for start-up Moodbeam
Hull health tech start-up Moodbeam has gone from a spark of an idea to a business looking at global opportunities.
To go from the spark of an idea to a fledgling business looking at global opportunities in just three years is no mean feat.
But for Hull health tech start-up Moodbeam it’s been a rollercoaster ride driven by the belief it’s hit upon a winning product that could change people’s lives for the better.
The company has recently secured £200,000 in funding that will enable it to go into production on its clever device that can monitor a person’s mental wellbeing.
And although it’s been hard graft; refining the concept, market testing, finding the right collaborators and creating the technology to make it a reality - among a myriad of other hurdles to clear – Moodbeam founder and director Jonathan Elvidge says Hull is the only place vibrant enough to have allowed it to happen.
Sitting in the company’s new office in the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) in Hull’s rapidly evolving Fruit Market, it’s the encouragement and practical skills from Hull’s burgeoning tech sector that have made Moodbeam possible.
“Absolutely, this couldn’t have happened anywhere else. To be honest, I wouldn’t have known where to start anywhere but here,” says Jonathan, who previously created the successful Gadget Shop and Red 5 brands.
“This is the perfect place to make it happen. We’re a perfect example of how it’s possible for a tech start-up to do it here. Everyone has known about this part of the world having a more affordable lifestyle for a long time, but it’s always struggled to attract the talent because it didn’t have the resources or infrastructure to support it.
“What places like C4DI have done is bring those resources and infrastructure – and services such as Lightstream broadband have underpinned that. This is probably one of the best places in the country to start a tech business.”
Calling on C4DI’s software and hardware developers, 3D printing experts and large network of tech sector contacts, Moodbeam is now ready to go into production with its gadget. The units should be ready and available to buy by Autumn 2019.
The discreet Moodbeam gadget, which in its latest evolution resembles a sleek Fitbit, registers happiness or sadness with one press of either the blue (negative) or yellow (positive) button. The result is then plotted by an app which can then be used to chart an individual’s changing moods over time.
It has a multitude of potential uses, from monitoring the mental health of children struggling at school to students away from home for the first time, patients suffering from depression and even elite sportsmen.
The device’s potential has already piqued the interest of tech industry insiders with the company scooping the award for Best Emerging Technology at last year’s Hull Digital Awards.
Founding director Christina Colmer McHugh, whose original idea lead to the creation of Moodbeam, says she hopes the device will soon be able to benefit thousands of people around the world.
She said: “We’ve proved the concept and we know there is a demand for this technology across a wide range of uses.
“It started out for me as a way of checking how my daughter was at school. It started out as a parental aid - but since then it’s become so much more, it has so many applications that we’d never even thought of.
“It can be used by people who are worried about their elderly parents, by people who have anxiety and depression, in the elite sports arena by athletes linking performance with mood. We now know it has whole life applications – and that opens up a lot of opportunities.”
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