UCL startup wins award for software designed to improve clinical trial recruitment
22 June 2020
CT-X is developing software to automate patient involvement in clinical trials, speed up scientific advances and ultimately bring health benefits to people sooner.
The startup was recently awarded first place at the Covid-19 Recovery Challenge, run by Imperial College Business School’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club, in recognition of the major impact the pandemic has had in delaying clinical research.
A meeting of entrepreneurial minds
CT-X grew out of the UCL Artificial Intelligence Society, where co-founders Livia Ng (UCL BSc Neuroscience), Ilias Paniaras (UCL MSc Drug Discovery and Development) and Robert Nash (UCL MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering) met.
Livia, now CEO, has worked in research labs at UCL, Imperial and Peking University as well as industry labs, where she witnessed first-hand the problems in research study recruitment.
“Doctors and research nurses are spending way too long recruiting patients to research studies. This means patients are not getting the experience they deserve, and these effects snowball into delays in scientific advancement and more importantly delays into people getting lifesaving treatments.”
Livia, Ilias (COO) and Robert (CTO), began to form ideas for solutions to address the problem. They assembled a larger team of expertise and moved into UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub in early 2020. There they received business advice, mentorship and the right environment to structure and grow the company further.
Doug Stidolph, Business Acceleration Advisor, UCL Innovation & Enterprise, commented: "The talented team behind CT-X have extensively researched to understand the pain-points and bottlenecks within this field. I believe their innovative solution will have a genuine and tangible impact.
"It's certainly been a challenging time for our latest cohort of startups, but they have all shown an uplifting resilience and spirit to face this head-on. Our business support team has responded in kind, and many of our services and resources are now live and running smoothly online."
Developing a technology platform
CT-X has developed a patient engagement platform that automates the matching of patients to researchers. Using information such as age, gender and health conditions, it shows patients the most suitable research studies for them.
“Patients can then browse the research and what it entails and understand it in a transparent way,” says CTO Robert. “Once patients have selected a research study they want to get involved in, we screen them on our platform and, if they’re eligible, we book them in. This simple match and booking system can save doctors, nurses and researchers countless hours in manually intensive work.”
The team is now seeking to validate the idea and concept working with 12 universities across UK and Europe.
Responding to the wider impact of Covid-19
The CT-X team recently entered and won the Covid-19 Recovery Challenge, competing against teams from Harvard, Imperial, UCL and ITESM (Monterrey Institute of Technology). Covid-19 has disrupted the healthcare system, causing delays in scientific advancement by halting clinical trials and treatment opportunities for patients worldwide. In fact, CT-X has found that of the 55,000 clinical trials currently running, over 86% have been delayed by at least 6 months.
“If preparation towards these trials can be completed during the pandemic, we can clear the backlog of work that is currently piling up, enabling unparalleled scientific advancement amidst a global crisis,” Livia says.
Since this story was published, CT-X have changed their name to Neucruit.
Find out more about:
- entrepreneurship support for UCL students
- the Hatchery, UCL’s incubator programme
- CT-X / Neucruit
- Covid-19 Recovery Challenge
Image of the CT-X team © Imperial College Business School's Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club