UK startup Feebris leverages AI to care for vulnerable populations remotely
How a biomedical engineer built a platform to detect diseases from a distance
This video was filmed in 2019.
Many founders dream of saving lives, but Elina Naydenova is one of the very few to actually do so. A biomedical & AI engineer by trade, Elina believes that healthcare should be a universal human right. “It’s unacceptable that in 2020, we can do our communications, our banking, our navigation, our shopping at a touch of a button, but still nearly one million children die of pneumonia because it gets diagnosed too late,” she said. So after putting herself through Oxford University, Elina and her partner Adam Bacon founded Feebris with the goal of helping people diagnose life-threatening diseases earlier. The Feebris AI platform lets anyone capture and interpret important health information in order to identify disease early and monitor conditions in the community. Feebris’ algorithm-driven mobile app paired with sensors like digital stethoscopes can be used by anyone, such as a teacher or a parent, in any remote area to detect issues early, avoid complications, and prevent hospitalization.
Elina had years of experience detecting childhood pneumonia, but she wanted expert support in running her fast-growing company. So she applied to Google for Startups Residency in London, joining a cohort of startups using machine learning to tackle key social issues. “Support at Campus London is personalized to your needs and led by people who have successfully launched and scaled startups,” said Elina. “Unlike the one-size-fits-all programs, Residency is focused on unlocking opportunities and removing barriers for each business individually.” While in Residency, Elina connected with Google subject matter experts in TensorFlow to help Feebris develop core product functionality and technical infrastructure. Elina also learned how to implement an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework for Feebris. “When we started Residency, we were going through due diligence with investors, so we worked with a senior Googler to set clear goals,” said Elina. “This gave our investors confidence in our ability to map out our journey and identify appropriate milestones, and we went on to close our seed round of £1.1 million. Striking a balance between structure and agility is tremendously important in tech, and even more so for a startup. Residency gave us the right tools to forge a framework that we continue to follow and adapt as we evolve.”
Their focus on the most vulnerable patients allowed the Feebris team to quickly spring to action at the onset of the COVID-19. Elina and her team saw their technology enable vulnerable individuals to still receive quality care while staying safe and isolated during the pandemic. Google for Startups’ network introduced her to the prestigious TechForce19 program, an NHSX Covid-19 response initiative supported by PUBLIC and the AHSN Network. Feebris became one of just 18 digital solutions awarded funding under the Techforce19 challenge to roll out their app to care homes in East London to support their residents. “Credibility is hugely important as we grow our footprint with healthcare providers,” said Elena. “Google for Startups Residency provided us with a public platform to share our story and build awareness for the work we are doing, from public speaking opportunities to media articles. We are proud to be supporting social care and healthcare partners in transforming their services to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.”