University spin-out named best medtech start-up

University of Nottingham spin-out company Cerca Magnetics was named best start-up medtech company at the annual OBN awards.

Cerca Magnetics received the award in recognition of their achievements developing and bringing to market the first commercial, wearable brain MEG device.

The wearable brain imaging system was developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham and since the formation of Cerca Magnetics 14 months ago has already been installed at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto for ground-breaking research into autism, and Young Epilepsy’s diagnostic suite where it is being used to improve how the condition is diagnosed and treated.

The prestigious awards, now in their 13th year, shine a light on companies at all stages of development, recognising inspirational leadership, exciting innovation, novel and exciting approaches to unmet clinical need, outstanding company progression and the delivery of real-life tangible results.

David Woolger CEO of Cerca said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded best start-up. Since we formed the company, we have had so much interest in this system and are delighted to already be working with Sick Kids and Young Epilepsy to improve the lives of children with brain disorders.”

This wearable brain imaging system is the result of years of research by scientists at the University of Nottingham who recognised the need for an alternative to the conventional MEG scanners that are very expensive, cumbersome, and rely on cryogenic sensors which are not viable for use in infants, and require patients to stay extremely still.

The new wearable system is based upon recently developed “quantum” sensors which use the fundamental properties of atoms to sense local magnetic fields. These new sensors, called optically pumped magnetometers or OPMs, do not require cryogenic cooling. They are also extremely small and lightweight (similar to a Lego brick). This means they can be mounted in a helmet which the patient wears. The helmet can adapt to any head shape or size, and because it is lightweight and moves with the head, it is completely motion robust, making this ideal for children and young people.

“It’s incredible to see how far the technology has come since our initial experiments in the lab five years ago. Seeing the system commercialised and installed to help children with neurological problems like autism and epilepsy is amazing and we are looking forward to developing and rolling the system out even further in 2022.” Dr Elena Boto, Chief Scientist at Cerca Magnetics

More information is available from Professor Matthew Brookes on [email protected]

The full University of Nottingham press release is available here:

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