Startup Spotlight: Digital Health Screening App CogniSigns Wants To Enable Easy Access To Early Diagnoses
CogniSigns is a digital screening app that uses an algorithm-driven chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to detect diseases and mental health conditions in a user.
This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
For Andressa Roveda, co-founder and CEO for the MENA region at Brazil-headquartered digital health screening app CogniSigns, enabling easy access to early health diagnoses is the vision that drives her startup’s operations. “Our goal is that by 2030, giftedness, mental conditions, and the top 10 causes of death from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide can be diagnosed early,” Roveda says. “In this way, we can generate a positive impact on the quality of life and human longevity, and make preventive medicine more prevalent.”
Roveda is aided in this mission for CogniSigns by her co-founder Leandro Mattos, who is the CEO for Brazil and the Latin America region at the startup. Having launched CogniSigns in 2019 in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis, Mattos, who is also the Chief Technology Officer of the startup, believes that the company’s offering has a lot of potential in the field of healthcare. “Our inspiration came from our neuromarketing lab, where we had already worked with eye-tracking and other equipment,” Mattos explains. “Knowing how autism is considered one of the greatest enigmas of medicine, and recognizing that this technology could be applied to support the diagnosis of autism signs, we decided to start our trajectory with CogniSigns.”
CogniSigns is a digital screening app that uses an algorithm-driven chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to detect diseases and mental health conditions in a user. “Our solution is distinct and unique due to the fact that it is technology-based and can be easily accessed, using AI tools via computer webcam, tablet, or cell phone, using cloud computing for efficiency, data security (compliance), and social impact,” explains Roveda. “It then delivers dashboards to the clients, highlighting data that support strategic decisions in health, education, and public policy development.” Now, at this point, it’s perhaps important to gauge a quick understanding of the health issues the startup deals with. In fact, the gravitas of CogniSigns’ overall vision is more eminent when the scale of the issues it helps in solving is understood.
Take its focus on giftedness, for starters. According to the Washington, D.C.-headquartered National Association for Gifted Children, “gifted” individuals are described as “those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains.” While giftedness itself is not considered a disability, the American non-profit organization Davidson Institute has noted that some gifted students may have to contend with learning disabilities like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism. As such, misdiagnosis of giftedness is a common occurrence across the globe.
CogniSigns, however, aims to negate this problem by creating quick and easy access to proper diagnosis of such issues through its AI-driven services. On the other hand, NCDs refer to a wide range of non-transmissible diseases that include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other maladies. According to the World Health Organization, NCDs account for 71% of all deaths globally, and early detection and timely treatment of these diseases are of utmost importance. Notably, CogniSigns’ goal to achieve efficient digital screening of NCDs by 2030 aligns very well with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of a one-third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2030.
Leandro Mattos, co-founder, CogniSigns
As an enterprise, CogniSigns functions as a business-to-business (B2B) as well as a business-to-customer (B2C) platform. In the B2B sector, the startup’s clients include parents as well as healthcare and education professionals. In the B2C sector, the platform can be used for digital screening in schools, hospitals, and clinics. CogniSigns also functions as a business-to-government (B2G) platform by offering its services to governmental healthcare and education institutions. “The respective price per package depends on the market and quantity,” Roveda says. “A company can also choose to buy screening packs as donations to other entities, in which case CogniSigns not only donates the purchased screenings, but rather doubles the number of screenings. We are actively operating in Brazil with mostly B2B clients such as schools and companies.”
While CogniSigns currently has a team that consists of only six employees, the startup has had its sights set on expanding the business into other countries from day one. Having already set up a base in the United States, the startup recently set up a new branch in the UAE as well. “We are learning day-by-day how to do business in the Emirates, but one of the great benefits is the possibility to have the company license as a free zone, without having a local partner, and being able to sell to anywhere in the world,” Mattos notes. “The biggest challenge, however, has been in finding data regarding the conditions we work with. This is another reason why CogniSigns is interested in the UAE- to capture more regional data for better decision making.”
As the duo plans on continuing their startup’s journey in the UAE, they remain grateful for the help they have received from being a part of the MBRIF accelerator program. “Our selection as a startup in the MBRIF program has been essential for us to better understand the business and educational landscapes in the UAE and to connect with important people and organizations,” Roveda says. And as the need for preventive healthcare increases in the UAE and the region, CogniSigns seems to be well-placed to contribute to this growing ecosystem- stay tuned!