Livia Ng is not only an expert in Neuroscience - she's also a tech founder, leading a team of five as she develops Neucruit. Neucruit is a match-making platform for patients and researchers.
Neucruit's aim is to achieve 'research for all patients, patients for all research'. Livia has first hand experience in research, and experienced issues with recruiting patients for research projects during the 2.5 collective years she spent in various research roles.
Patient recruitment is a key determinant of success for clinical research. In 2015, studies showed that 19% of clinical trials were terminated early because they could not accrue enough participants. Recruitment issues can also drastically increase the amount of time a research project takes.
We met with Livia to find out more about her business and her experience as a woman in healthtech.
I went to University College London, where I studied Neuroscience for my Undergrad. I then went on to study Neuroscience at Imperial College London for my Masters. After this, I worked in academic research and biotech. I’m now leading Neucruit, a team of 5.
I’ve always been interested in the brain and how it enables us to make both conscious and unconscious decisions.
Neucruit is a tool that will allow research for all patients, and patients for all research.
During my experience of academic research and biotech, it was clear that patient recruitment was an issue for both areas.
We’ve pivoted many times, but this is a normal part of being in a start-up.We consistently speak to different customer profiles to understand who we could help, what their needs are and how we can adapt to these needs. Our conversations drive pivots to the product – both big and small.
We have a basic product launched. We received funding from Innovate UK in 2020 which really accelerated development.
We’ll be running recruitment for three COVID-19 trials as part of the UKRI-Innovate UK COVID-19 grant. We’re also exploring operating in the commercial clinical trial space.
My top tip would be to keep trying and keep getting feedback. When fundraising, I would suggest looking at alternatives to VC funding in the early stages. Statistically speaking, VC’s ask ‘preventative’ questions to women over 66% of the time, and ask men ‘promotive’ questions. This narrative can be tough when you’re first starting out so make sure to stay informed. Laura Huang has a great article on this in the Harvard Business Review.
Grant funding and accelerator programmesare much more female-friendly routes for early-stage start-ups.
It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s recognised that it’s harder for women to succeed. On the other hand, there are many great initiatives for Women in STEM and in Start-ups that could help get your business off the ground.
Within healthcare, funding for mental health will be increased in the coming months. The Spanish Flu, over 100 years ago, was followed by a huge wave of admissions into psychiatric institutions and suicides. Better mental health facilities and better access to care will be required and funded post-COVID-19.
All universities now have some kind of entrepreneurship programme, but if some of these were specifically targeted to women, including women who have never experienced entrepreneurship before, it could start creating more equal landscapes.
How do you imagine innovation helping women?
Femtech is particularly important. I have friends that are looking at precision contraception. Contraception could be hugely changed within the next five years. The current way of prescribing contraceptives is based on ‘trial and error’, which can be mentally and physically damaging. Use of biomarkers to predict which contraceptives workbest will reduce a lot of this damage. Another business, Impli, are working on an implantable device that will track hormones to advise on contraception.
Finally, I think innovation will be fantastic for fertility. Easier, at-home testing will make fertility knowledge and treatments more accessible.
Finally, which woman, living or dead,would you invite to dinner and why?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The amount she achieved after having two children was revolutionary in many senses.
Find out more about Neucruit via their website.