BreatheHero win Spark commercialisation prize

25 October 2015
BreatheHero at the 2015 Spark Qualifiers
BreatheHero left to right: Hamed Minaeizaeim, Dr Christof Lutteroth, Katherine Herbert and Robert Gallichan. Photo courtesy of Spark and Andrew Lau Photography.

BreatheHero(TM) was awarded the UniServices Research Commercialisation Prize at the 2015 Spark 100k Challenge Grand Prize Giving.

BreatheHero is the brainchild of University of Auckland members Hamed Minaeizaeim, Robert Gallichan, Katherine Herbert and Dr Christof Lutteroth. Together, they are developing a novel chest physiotherapy (CPT) device for children that uses sensors and gaming technology to make CPT a motivating and entertaining experience.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 200 million people suffer from chronic lung diseases. In New Zealand, more than 200,000 New Zealanders have cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A common treatment for these diseases is chest physiotherapy (CPT), however the current technology for CPT does not provide any feedback and motivation for patients - especially children - to do CPT.

Hamed (CEO) had the idea and began developing the device. The team expanded to include Robert who is developing the electronics and sensors, Christof, a leading software and game developer and Katherine, the team’s business expert and marketing manager. BreatheHero is an example of great team work, and academic collaboration.

Christof is a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science. His research is in the field of human-computer interaction and software engineering, with a focus on exergaming and health. Katherine is currently completing a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Biological Sciences where she is involved in developing a new therapeutic for Type II diabetes. She also has invaluable experience in biomedical product marketing and research and development pipeline development, having worked for the Life Sciences Team at L.E.K. Consulting, a leading management consultancy.

Hamed and Robert are both studying towards a PhD in Bioengineering at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.  Hamed is researching ways of finding abnormalities relating to cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis (a condition that leaves children with an increased risk of lung infection) in paediatric chest x-rays using image processing techniques, and developing a technique for getting more and better information from the x-rays. Robert’s research aims to help patients with hydrocephalus (commonly known as water on the brain) using implantable devices.

The UniServices prize is worth $5000, and BreatheHero were one of fifteen finalist teams in the Spark 100k Challenge. All finalists have just completed 6 weeks of intensive training and mentoring under the Spark Launch Pad Programme. The BreatheHero members will be taking a short but well-earned break before continuing with their research, and taking BreatheHero closer to market.

Designed and coordinated by Spark and the University of Auckland Business School, “the $100k Challenge process is designed to give the best opportunity for all ventures that enter it to launch into a successful business.”

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