Brain-in-Hand: helping people live independently through technology

1stNov 2013
"The Innovation Centre at Exeter is flexible in its approach, and can work equally well with experienced business people such as myself, and with young people starting their first company."
Andrew Stamp, Chief Executive, Brain-in-Hand

Fast facts 

  • Start date: 2009
  • Website:
  • Market sector: healthcare
  • Location: Exeter
  • Investment raised: £600,000
  • Number of employees: 8

SETsquared support

  • introductions to potential investors
  • premises and office services
  • networking opportunities

Company overview

Brain-in-Hand has developed a technology and support system to help people with conditions, such as Asperger's syndrome, where the executive function of the brain is impaired. It provides software for smartphones and tablets, together with a secure website and support from a mentoring service.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
"I have a son with autism, and became involved with academic research into intervention programmes. It became clear that a significant proportion of the population with autism does not receive any assistance, for example there are of the order of 200,000 people with Asperger's syndrome in the UK. The traditional one-to-one way of helping these people is not affordable, and isn't always the help that someone wants.
Brain-in-Hand is designed to help these people to live independent and fulfilled lives contributing fully to our society and economy"

Company successes

2009: formation of Company, secured initial £30,000 funding
2010: completion of prototype system and initial trial (University of Portsmouth)
2011 Relocation to University of Exeter raised £90,000, launch of Windows Mobile 7.5 version,
2012 Completion of major NHS trial (Devon NHS Partnership Trust)m, Raised £200,000
2013 Raised £300,000, launching products for individuals and organisations including education, employment and social care

SETsquared support

"We moved into the Innovation Centre in the autumn of 2011, and the service has been absolutely excellent. One standout point is that the centre treats its tenants like adults, and gives sensible support to developing businesses – their diplomacy and common sense approach is very good."
"As well as giving us facilities such as IT, the Innovation Centre has provided a community with which we could engage as a technology business. Everything from the cafeteria to the administration of meetings is well run. I started Brain-in-Hand pretty much on my own, and as a start-up you need all sorts of services – the Innovation Centre has been an excellent resource to meet these needs."
"They have helped us look at sources of funding, and to engage with the local angel network, SWAIN, which helped us to secure investment from a private individual."
"I've been able to talk through issues with Robin Jackson at SETsquared, and I can have a chat with him any time. He's a terrific person to have around."
"SETsquared helped us to get assistance from the GrowthAccelerator programme. This has provided us with a consultant at a subsidised price, who had experience of the NHS and helped us to think through our approach to working with the NHS and selling to them – our service is now in use at three trusts. GrowthAccelerator also helped us to conduct an intellectual property audit."
"Other contacts we've made via SETsquared include ExIST, the Exeter Initiative for Science and Business, and in 2013 we won ExiST's award for innovation of the year."
"Being in the Innovation Centre helped a great deal in positioning us as an organisation with proper backup, and one that was serious about what we were doing. This applied to investors, and to customers such as the NHS – having the support and facilities of the university was a big help. We have also used the university's recruitment process, which is excellent, to find students to work on placements with us."

Future plans

"We expect a rapid development of our software, our expertise and its implementation. We will seek to help a much larger population of people, and anticipate that this will include sales to schools, the NHS, social care and businesses."