Hidden success factors for brain health technologies

Harris Eyre
3 min readOct 20, 2020

Our field is captivated by new deep tech approaches to addressing brain health disorders. However, without solid operational effectiveness and governance, companies, with great technology, fail to execute and investors lose confidence.

Technologies, such as AI, VR, AR, multi-omics and sensors can help to optimize screening, diagnosis, treatment and prevention for brain health disorders. Single point solutions are also being converged into multi-component product symphonies. To match the excitement of new tech, there are trends suggesting an increase in company formations and the requisite capital investments. Indeed, we may soon achieve > USD $1 billion in venture investment each year into this space, and there are specific venture philanthropy funds now established (e.g. Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation). These trends are of course wonderful for our field and provide fresh hope for new ways to equip clinicians to help individuals and families.

Unfortunately, our field focuses almost exclusively on the power of the technology, but rarely discusses the critical nature of operational effectiveness and governance.

Without solid operational effectiveness and governance we all stand to see the momentum for our field (and hope) evaporate if investment dollars dry up. This would be a disaster as we need sustained, multi-decade engagement in the area. Reminder: The burden of these disorders is projected to increase to around USD $16 trillion per year in lost economic productivity by 2030.

The level of discipline applied in developing evidence-based technologies is often not seen when taking them to market. That often becomes much more opportunistic and disjointed. Companies make fundamental mistakes such as targeting a market segment where there is no relevant, unmet need or dramatic advantage to the new solution. Usability, clinical utility and workflow friction need to be minimized, as do reimbursement and regulatory barriers. Overcoming these issues is profoundly important for implementation and should be core competencies for companies. Without these competencies, the prospective customer is left to figure out how to elegantly integrate the solution into their established workflow and infrastructure.

Furthermore, lack of strong fundamental operational processes leads to chaos and team dysfunction, mistrust — all of which discourages investors.

We established The PRODEO Institute to identify and promote novel, proven and relevant solutions. We developed PRODEO to intervene in the problems identified above, leveraging streetwise experience and proven frameworks and processes.

Beyond these core business essentials outlined above, we promote Responsible Innovation in Mental Health. Our paper was recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry (the figure below is excerpted from the paper).

We also promote transdisciplinary innovation in the brain health field i.e. successful teamwork across different disciplines. We have co-edited a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press titled ‘Convergence Mental Health: A Transdisicplinary Approach to Innovation’ which dives further into these issues. For example, one chapter from organizational psychology experts notes the ideal psychological factors for success in the deep tech brain health space i.e. conscientiousness, adjustment ability, ambiguity acceptance, curiosity, courage and competitiveness. The book is slated to release in December of this year.

Contact me if you would like to discuss operational and governance matters for your technology.