Comstock's magazine 1218 - December 2018 - Page 122

n SEED ROUND: MEET THE FOUNDER TONY J. SIMON COGNIVIVE Anybody who says video games are bad for your health hasn’t met Dr. Tony Simon. He’s a cognitive neuroscientist and cofounder of Cognivive, a Davis-based therapeutics company. His startup develops “digital therapeutics,” i.e. treatments in the form of virtu- al reality games to reduce cognitive and motor impairments in brain injury patients and children with developmental disorders. Built on his research and others, the concept suggests that brain injury and some developmental disorders cause information about space and time to get lost in translation from the outside world to the inner workings of the brain. “This is rather like having a low-resolution digital camera image compared to a high-resolution image of the same scene,” Simon says. As a result, it becomes harder for injured patients to estimate dis- tance and speed that might control movements, such as picking up and drinking from a cup. But Simon says his customized action video games can help improve the function of affected brain systems. Simon linked up with game designer, Ted Aronson, who became Cognivive’s chief creative officer. Since launching in January 2017, the team has re- ceived a $300,000 small business grant from the National Institute of Health and another $275,000 in angel funds. Digitherix My backup name for the startup was . . ............................................................................... a team of passionate, A startup can’t be successful without................................................................................. committed, ethical people . . .......................................................................................................................................................................... The TV show that best represents my approach to business would be............... “The West Wing” and the way President Jed Bartlet handled policy and politics . . ............................................................................................................................................................................ stretching myself My biggest fear about launching was . . ......................................................................................... beyond my capabilities ......................................................................................................................................................................................... “persist” If I could give my younger self one word of advice, that word would be.. ............................ IS THIS A COMPETITIVE MARKET? “In the past, there were many ‘brain training’ apps, many of which had little or no science behind them. Some made claims that they could not support and were fined by the federal government, while others failed to deliver the results they promised.” HOW IS COGNIVIVE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE ‘BRAIN TRAINING APPS? “The magic thing we have is this combination of real game design, science and clinical expertise. By taking a re- ally strong evidence-based approach to designing and evaluating our treatments, we are really differentiating ourselves from those kinds of ‘health and wellness’ products to create real therapeutics — just like a pharma company would, but our drugs are compounded using digital instead of chemical components.” For more on Simon and Cognivive, read Russell Nichols’ “Startup of the Month” column at comstocksmag.com. 122 comstocksmag.com | December 2018