An Israeli digital therapy start-up has become the first international business to join Sheffield Hallam University’s £900,000 Wellbeing Accelerator programme, based at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) in Sheffield.

Located in Tel Aviv, Selfit Medical Ltd focuses on solutions to help ageing populations. The business has developed a ‘robot therapist’ for people with brain and heart disorders. It guides individuals through a personalised physical therapy plan by projecting movement directions and combining audio prompts with the capacity to film and review.

Selfit’s patented system can help to alleviate issues associated with ageing and illness prevention, and managing other disorders – such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and cognitive impairment.

The Wellbeing Accelerator operates out of Sheffield Hallam’s new world-leading £14m wellbeing research centre, with start-ups on the programme gaining access to world-class research and development to allow for rapid prototyping, precision engineering, laboratories for product testing, support networks and a clinical research centre.

The programme works with start-ups, SMEs, founders and agencies to accelerate the development of health and wellbeing technologies and applications. These innovations have become increasingly important this year as people adapt their lifestyles to the social restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Simon Butler, Head of the AWRC Wellbeing Accelerator said: “We are delighted to accept Selfit Medical Ltd as the first international start-up recruited on to the programme. Its technology is really innovative and very timely with the issues of an ageing population, and rising levels of conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s meaning novel solutions are required. We look forward to supporting the business to reach its goals.”

Shahar Figelman, CEO of Selfit Medical, said “We’ve been trying for some time to enter the UK healthcare and wellness markets so joining the AWRC Wellbeing Accelerator is a great opportunity for us.  We’re excited to get access to leading scientists and clinicians via the programme and look forward to learning how to bring our technology to market in the UK.”

Selfit was introduced to the programme by Elaine Evans, Life Science Specialist for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Hub, a regional team of the Department for International Trade.

Commenting on the news, David Phillips, Deputy Director of the Northern Powerhouse region at DIT said: “The UK is the leading tech hub in Europe and Selfit’s acceptance onto the AWRC’s accelerator demonstrates the strong appeal of the UK’s tech ecosystem among startups around the world.

“The business’s innovative technology will be vital to finding solutions to help tackle the government’s grand challenges including an ageing society, as outlined in our Industrial Strategy. I look forward to seeing the business grow in the UK.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the first phase of the Accelerator programme will be delivered virtually, with technology used to provide mentoring and consulting support. The second phase follows later in the year and will see small cohorts of businesses attending a series of intensive one-week onboarding sessions, followed by several weeks of further support.

The Wellbeing Accelerator at the AWRC is one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment delivered by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The Accelerator’s aim is to increase the likelihood of, and reduce the timescales for, innovations to be brought to market through a period of intensive testing and development.

The AWRC, which forms the centrepiece of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. Its mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity – whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.

If you are a start-up working on a wellbeing innovation and want to apply to be on the AWRC Wellbeing Accelerator programme please apply here: www.shu.ac.uk/wellbeingaccelerator