A better life for patients

Combining leadership with computer science, neuroscience, physics and robotics

#Meettheleader Session with Tej Tadi, founder and CEO of Mindmaze, YGL 2015

We were privileged to meet a true thought passion-driven leader: Tej Tadi, founder and CEO of Mindmaze. The company brings together computer science, neuroscience, physics and robotics to enhance the quality of life of brain trauma survivors. Tej became a Young Global Leader earlier this year for his innovative, groundbreaking work and contribution to society.

The day of our meeting was special.  August 19th followed an intensive and inspiring #ShapersACM week and this #MeetTheLeader session was also attended by the curators who were still in town. After an exciting ACM where the Global Shapers community had an opportunity to exchange ideas, the audience was particularly eager to learn about new innovations.

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Tej’s path and life can be a true inspiration for all of us. While he was working on his PhD in neuroscience at the EPFL, he witnessed first-hand that the methods used to treat patients suffering from brain traumatism, particularly those who had experienced a stroke, were not advanced and mostly based on the qualitative observation of the treating doctor during his visit rather than quantitative data and continuous monitoring of the patient. Likewise, available treatments were very limited and therefore patients’ recovery was, in many cases, compromised by this lack of medical options. He started thinking about creative ways to combine engineering and healthcare to address these problems.

This out of the box thinking was very much needed. Indeed, cerebrovascular accidents or Strokes are a global socio-economic problem. About 15 million people suffer strokes every year, which translates into a stroke every 45 seconds. Because of the challenges related to modern society and changing behavioral patterns, there has been a 180% increase in the stroke rate in recent years, and strokes now affect people as young as 30 years old – in some cases even 16 years old. Cerebrovascular accidents represent a huge financial burden as well: the U.S. and Western Europe alone spend about 100 billion in stroke care every year.

In 2011, Tej founded MindMaze with the intent to design and develop novel applications in Neuro-Rehabilitation, Game training & Interfaces. In particular, MindMaze’s devices use virtual reality, brain imaging and gaming technologies to retrain the brain of stroke victims and help them regain motor functions. The company recently caused a stir with the introduction of the industry’s first thought-powered, augmented reality and motion capture Neuro-Rehabilitation system. Basically, by monitoring the patient’s brain signals the devices are capable of translating the thought into an animation on the screen. In other words, the system tricks the brain into believing it’s functioning properly which helps the recovery of damaged cerebral regions.

This technology’s field of application can also be scaled up. Because of this symbiosis between augmented reality and the patient brain and thought, there are possibilities it can also help people who suffered spinal cord injuries, limb amputations and many other conditions.

During our meeting, Tej also shared some insights on his experience on starting a business and more generally on the Swiss start-up ecosystem. “It doesn’t take experience to have an idea, but it does take experience to take this idea to the market,” he said, highlighting that the journey from developing the first device and getting it to patients was quite long and complicated. This is why Tej encouraged everyone to not be afraid of making mistakes and to learn from them as much as possible; “If you want to start something the time is now; if you want to fail something, the time is also now!”.

In 2014, MindMaze was confirmed among the TOP 100 Best Swiss startups. The future priorities for Tej include making the devices more affordable and available in emerging markets. He stressed that time is very important for them: “For every day we ‘waste’ someone is not getting the device that can help improve their lives”.

If you’d like to learn more about Tej’s work and the devices produced by MindMaze visit their website MindMaze.com or follow MindMaze on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit: Geneva Hub