At first glance, these headphones seem ordinary, but in fact they are revolutionary. Behind them lies a breakthrough technology aimed at democratizing the electroencephalogram (EEG) to improve the diagnosis and monitoring of neurological disorders in real-life, non-hospital environments. The idea, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, is not new, but the young Parisian company Naox Technologies is the first to successfully meet this technological challenge. “Several teams around the world have been working on the concept of EEG at the ear level, but no one has been able to achieve such a tiny device capable of providing medical quality outside the laboratory,” explains Hugo Deanits CEO and co-founder.
“Our first patent, issued in France, is exactly how to turn any earpiece, such as silicone tips, into a conductive electroencephalogram sensor.” In addition to these in-ear headphones, the device has a very small black box that includes an electronic EEG capture system, as well as signal processing and biomarker identification software developed with Inserm.
Support for Jacques Attali
This innovative project was born in 2015 when Hugo Dean met at the Polytechnic School in the course of his specialization in medical imaging, Professor Michelle Le Van Quyen, director of research at Inserm and an electroencephalogram expert known for his algorithms for predicting epileptic seizures, who came to teach a course on connected objects and neuroscience. “We immediately found a common language, because we have common Vietnamese roots. I went to work at Inserm as part of an internship and research collaboration,” says Hugo Dean. duet, naturally partner in July 2018 to build NaoX Technologies – nao means “brain” in Vietnamese, with Michel Le Van Quyen as supervisor. A year later, Emmanuel Lange, technical director, and Khalil Kababe, equipment designer, joined him.
To finance the pre-launch of his project, Hugo Dean was just as bold. “I sent an email to Jacques Attali, who is also a polytechnic. I did not know him, but I knew that he was interested in neuroscience, and I explained our revolutionary project to him. He answered me within 5 minutes: “Come tomorrow,” says the young CEO. “What struck me was the innovative nature of this project, the fact that I can be helpful and follow the ethical aspect of the promise of this technology because epilepsy is a public health issue,” explains Jacques Attali, founding president of Attali & Associés, which invests symbolic amounts in the creation of technology start-ups in all sectors of the life economy. His motives: “Intellectual curiosity, watching a project I believe in to see what it will become. It’s a bet, like all startups.”
First clinical trial at the end of 2022
In order to launch its first epilepsy-specific clinical trial at the end of 2022, NaoX Technologies announces on January 27th the completion of €4.3m seed funding, including 2.5 million shares from Kurma Partners, independent patient fund bpifrance, BNP Development and Majycc. The balance of $1.8 million was provided by bpifrance in the form of a subsidy and a repayable advance in deeptech development assistance. This comparative clinical study with classical EEG, a reference examination requiring electrodes to be placed on the patient’s head in a hospital environment and whose data interpretation is difficult, will first be carried out on 50 patients at the Adolphe de Rothschild Foundation Hospital. , with which the startup signed a 5-year partnership.
If the results are final, this revolutionary EEG measurement device will be eligible for the CE marking required for its marketing, which is envisaged in Europe and the US at the end of 2023. Hugo Dean is very optimistic: “We hope for success. close to 100%. To monitor the patient in their daily life, the NaoX solution relies on a mobile application that detects biomarkers in real time and securely sends the information to the attending physician. And artificial intelligence helps the doctor to analyze them, clarify the diagnosis and choose the optimal therapy.
Date of creation : 2018
CEO and co-founder: Hugo Dean
Growth: 4.3 million euros
Effective: 8 people