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Mental Health Startup, Charli, Takes Top Prize at Perth Biodesign for Digital Health Presentations

Digital Health start-up Charli has taken first prize at the first ever 2020 Perth Biodesign for Digital Health Final Presentations for their AI matchmaking app for psychologists and clients.

Over the years, research has confirmed what many psychologists and psychiatrists have known intuitively, that the therapeutic relationship itself is the most important factor in determining successful treatment. But for people only starting out on their journey of seeking treatment for mental health issues, finding the right psychologist can add more stress to an already difficult time in their lives. In fact, 60% of clients will change psychologist within the first 3 sessions and 35% will fail treatment completely.

The Charli team are creating a powerful AI matchmaking app for psychologists and consumers, allowing clients to select the values and characteristics they seek in a treatment provider. The app not only recommends local psychologists to fit these features but continues to track consumer feedback and satisfaction through gamified engagement, providing more personalised treatment to the patient and greater acquisition and lifetime value to the psychologists.


 “We set out to create a solution that would be fairly intuitive to use but have a big impact. Mental Health is always a really important area to be working in but we already know that with the economic and social burden of the Covid pandemic, it’s an area that’s going to need even more support. We’re really proud of our progress in the course, in the past 12 weeks we identified the need, ideated a solution and, with the help of Curve Tomorrow, have developed a clickable prototype.” – said business team member, innovation consultant, Oliver Bazzani.

The multidisciplinary team, who met for the first time at the course kick-off session in March, is made up of Hazel Hudson - a healthcare innovation lead at South Metropolitan Health Services, Jetro Gainza – an electrical engineer in mining, Oliver Bazzani – an innovation consultant, and Shayan Rasaratnam – a UWA medical science and computer science student. They undertook their clinical immersions at the Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Services.

Charli was one of four teams who presented at last night’s Perth Biodesign event, competing for a prize pool generously donated by SpaceCubed, Curve Tomorrow, UP Compliance and Northern Lights IP. Other teams included DetASD with an app for autism screening in rural and remote communities, BariPlan with a platform to simplify the patient journey before and after bariatric surgery and Surg-Minder with a solution to reduce cancelled orthopaedic procedures by improving pre-operative compliance for surgery.

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The Perth Biodesign team have been running their flagship medtech course since 2016 and this year received funding from an X-TEND WA grant to launch a digital health course. The course sees multidisciplinary teams spend 2 weeks undertaking clinical immersions in local hospitals, 8 weeks identifying the strongest needs and work towards providing a solution, whilst learning about the digital health development process of IP, regulatory, reimbursement and business strategies. The team then spent 4 weeks receiving consultation and product development help from local digital health experts, Curve Tomorrow.

Course co-director, Richard Macliver, said that the course had a few hurdles early on:

“We were very lucky to get our teams into clinical immersions early in the year but, of course like many other courses and businesses, we had to transition to an entirely online program over the course of about a week due to the Covid pandemic. We felt that was pretty appropriate actually for a digital health innovation course!” said Richard.

Covid restrictions also meant that, for the first time, Perth Biodesign final presentations were run virtually.

“The decision to run the final presentation night virtually was difficult but worked out really well. We were fortunate to host interstate and international guests including visitors from ANDHealth, Melbourne , Taiwan, as well as Singapore Biodesign. This was an opportunity to reach a broader and diverse audience which would otherwise have been challenging and impractical to get in the room." said course co-director Eldin Rostom.

The four teams presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges made up of Prof Fiona Wood, Derek Gerrard of Better Labs Ventures and Grace Lethlean of ANDHealth.

Expressions of interest are now open for the 2020 Perth Biodesign Medtech course here.

Perth Biodesign for Digital Health has been funded as part of the WA Digital Health Accelerator thanks to an X-TEND WA grant from the New Industries Fund, managed by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, and a consortium of partners led by Telethon Kids Institute.

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