Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020, the SE-IP programme, supported by the MBC Maidstone Innovation Centre, is aimed at helping early-stage companies with pioneering technologies that significantly impact people’s lives.
Outings for dementia patients are often difficult due to issues around mobility, planning and expense. Clopen founder and University of Kent lecturer Dr Jim Ang devised the virtual reality (VR) technology to allow patients to ‘visit’ different locations from the comfort of an armchair. In 2019, he published research on the impact of the technology on patients with severe dementia, which showed positive impacts on wellbeing, particularly pleasure and alertness. Realising its potential to improve lives, he set up Clopen with the aim of supplying the system to care homes and families of dementia patients.
The VR provides a wonderful array of scenarios to explore, from car racing and walking with dinosaurs, to the most popular, a visit to Disneyland. Easily operated by a care assistant or family member on a smart phone or simple device, the VR is a low cost, safe tool for improving mood and mental stimulation.
Assistance from the SE-IP has helped Dr Ang with his business plan and to connect with relevant business partners to grow the Clopen team. Support from the programme is ongoing to help Clopen secure funding to launch the technology to market.
Director of Regeneration and Place at Maidstone Borough Council, William Cornall comments:
This sounds like a fantastic initiative and I am delighted that MBC through the Maidstone Innovation Centre can help support it. Sadly dementia affects so many people and a programme like this could make such a difference to the way the way sufferers are able to live. The Innovation Centre is always looking to support organisations like Clopen and others excelling in the MedTech sector.
Dr Ang adds:
There are stereotypes about dementia patients but they are diverse people, with interests and passions just like anybody else. It’s amazing to see how they respond to our VR bringing to life appropriately designed places and experiences they would otherwise be unable to enjoy. The technology even allows family members to join them in the VR world from an external location.
The VR could also be used for people who are homebound or receiving cancer or end of life care.
The support from the SE-IP has been invaluable in helping us plan and establish our business. We’re really excited to take the next step and secure the funding we need to see this roll out in care and private homes across the UK.
The SE-IP is free of charge and includes all aspects of developing a commercially viable business. Companies wishing to apply for the business support programme, must be either located within the SELEP covering Kent, Medway, Essex, East Sussex, Southend, and Thurrock or be able to move to the area prior to the programme. They must demonstrate that they have a viable technology or service proposition focused on any part of the healthcare market including health, life science and MedTech.
To find out more about the Maidstone Innovation Centre visit: https://www.maidstoneinnovationcentre.co.uk/
Interested companies should contact Graham Hutchins at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Clopen, visit https://www.clopenvr.com/