Our popular Meet the client series reveals the inside story on the companies we support with legal services. We caught up with Sue Frost, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of AI product and services start-up Curamicus. She tells us about CuraPal®, their new AI personalised wearable product, designed to auto-detect falls in older people’s homes by updating a technology that’s over 50 years old.
Name and job title
Sue Frost, Co-founder and CEO, Curamicus
What is it your company does?
We produce CuraPal®: an AI-personalised wearable system and service that detects when older people fall in their homes. The technology sends a message directly to their chosen carer, reducing fall discovery time from hours to minutes. Over time, CuraPal® works to provide fall prevention by analysing the wearer’s movement patterns.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in three people aged 65 and over fall every year worldwide. Fifty percent of all UK A&E admissions relate to falls in older patients, costing the NHS £2.3b a year. CuraPal® is patent-pending and uses AI to minimise false positives.
Our mission is to positively enable elders to live longer with confidence in their own homes and our priority is to cut out unnecessary delays to enable older people who fall to be found as quickly as possible.
Who do you work with?
After extensive R&D, we are beginning a pilot of CuraPal® with a charitable foundation based in Southampton. They provide 12-week fall rehabilitation classes for older people who have suffered a fall, as well as general wellness exercise classes. We’re taking this opportunity to add wellness and exercise reporting to the product.
We plan to work with domiciliary care organisations and family carers as CuraPal® goes to market, and we have plans to operate in the US as well as the UK. There is also significant potential for CuraPal® to be used more widely in the wellness industry as a way for remote fitness instructors to work with older clients who exercise in the home.
How long have you been in business and how has your business grown?
We started the company in 2015 and have developed numerous prototypes since then. We were about to go into manufacturing our device just as the COVID-19 lockdown hit and manufacturing businesses were diverted to making PPE.
In order to progress during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are using a customised multi-sensor device alongside our AI technology. Coronavirus actually gives our product more urgency, as we can bring the CuraPal® product and service to shielding elders and keep them safe at home.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was a Royal Voluntary Service Volunteer and working at my local hospital when one day, I met an elderly patient whose story affected me. This lady was recovering from a knee operation as a result of a fall in her kitchen at home. Unfortunately, she spent 12 hours lying on her kitchen floor before she was found. I was shocked to hear this and went straight home to speak to Robin, my husband and co-founder/CTO, who agreed that in this day and age, this shouldn’t be happening. I started to research medical alert button based systems linked to call centres and discovered there had been no change to that technology since it was introduced in the 1970s. Driven by this knowledge and my determination to help the patient I’d met, along with the one in three of all elders worldwide who fall each year, we decided to work to solve the problem. Robin and I have run a number of tech firms in the past, including creating and selling a retinal imaging system to 122 hospital ophthalmic and optometry clinics in 12 countries. We are motivated to use technology to help people.
What have been the biggest recent challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
With an AI product, you need real-world data to ready the product for market. Securing our trial with the charitable foundation in Southampton will make all the difference, because we can collect and analyse real world data to train the AI. By working with older users who are performing exercise, we can position our wearable to help users with wellness programmes as well as fall detection. The CuraPal® system also has an application with recovering COVID-19 patients, who have spent time in hospital, particularly in ICU. Many patients have to learn to walk again due to losing muscle mass and other factors, and our wearable can track their movements as they recover, plus let their loved ones know if they fall.
We’re currently looking for investment for CuraPal® to enable us to grow our team and bring this truly highly scalable product to market in UK and USA. Our patent pending makes it harder for the product to be duplicated and offers investors a better return.
What are your hopes/goals for the next 1-3 years?
We want to be part of COVID-19 response and are currently seeking to launch CuraPal® to older people in the UK this year. We are looking at mid-2021 for our US launch. The good news is we’ve lived and worked in North America and Canada before, so know how business works there. We are ambitious and motivated by helping elders to live confidently at home for longer. We are also aware that the market is growing for our product due to increasing size of the ageing populations around the world. Within three years, our goal is to be acquired by a larger healthtech company to provide our investors with a sizeable exit.
What has it been like to work with Harper James? Tell us about your experience.
All the Harper James lawyers have been very helpful and responsive. If I need any documents prepared, the process is both quick and professional. We have been very pleased with Harper James and how they have dealt with us.
They helped us prepare a shareholder’s agreement which was very important for our investors and our business and have advised us on corporate governance, commercial contracts and IP issues.