Main Content

How an app developed in Scotland is helping people with cognitive decline to live independently for as long as possible

MindMate team - Patrick Renner, Rogelio Arellano and Susanne Mitschke
Co-founders Patrick Renner, Rogelio Arellano and Susanne Mitschke

Loss of independence is often one of the biggest struggles for people living with cognitive decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s - and that’s where MindMate comes in.

For people with early-stage memory loss, the app provides a unique tools package containing list-making applications, interactive games to sharpen memory and reactions, a ‘My Story’ timeline tool and customisable reminders.

A year after launch, the multi-award-winning app had over 100,000 users, with 95% of them saying they feel better after using it. The popular app now has over 500,000 users.

Small beginnings - big ambitions

When it came to creating, designing and developing the app, the trio behind MindMate, co-founders Rogelio Arellano, Patrick Renner and Susanne Mitschke, each brought a very personal interest in the topics of cognitive decline and digital healthcare to the table.

Rogelio had helped to care for his dementia-afflicted grandfather for seven years and Patrick had previously worked in an elderly care home.

The MindMate team began their business journey at Enterprise Campus West, attached to Glasgow’s Strathclyde University.

Without the help of the great support network in Scotland, MindMate wouldn't be the leading app provider for people living with memory problems. Scotland is on its way to becoming the best country to start a business from and we feel very honoured to be part of this movement.

Patrick Renner, co-founder of MindMate

Scotland’s three Enterprise Campuses, a joint initiative between the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Strathclyde, aim to support postgraduate students from any Scottish university who want to set up their own business.

They built their first prototype and then carried out tests with 100 people in Glasgow - 50 individuals living with memory loss and 50 carers. After a three-month trial period, it was clear that their work was helping people and showed real potential to change lives.

With more than 1000 5-star reviews in the App Store, MindMate has already become the world's highest rated software for people living with cognitive decline. Its success has led the MindMate team to rolling out Spanish and German language versions of the app. The app achieved number 1 spots in Apple’s App store in 17 countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Mexico.

"Without the help of the great support network in Scotland, MindMate wouldn't be the leading app provider for people living with memory problems. Scotland is on its way to becoming the best country to start a business from and we feel very honoured to be part of this movement," says Patrick.

How does it work?

The MindMate app provides a range of fun and interactive games, based on world-leading research, to stimulate users’ cognitive abilities. It also contains tools to help users make notes, write to-do lists and set helpful, customisable reminders.

The ‘It’s My Life’ function allows users to build their life story, which can be shared with family and friends. They can also store all the personal information, such as preferred food and favourite music. This is especially helpful when the user already has memory problems and has to see a doctor or visit a hospital.

The app also provides nutrition advice and stimulates physical exercise. The music and television section of MindMate allows users and their carers to watch, listen, dance and sing along to chart hits from the last 50 years. There is also a quiz section to help keep their minds active.

In a care situation, the app allows health staff to create personalised experiences for every resident, with tools to engage residents, promote conversations and give a sense of achievement. The easy-to-use chat interface makes communication simple for the person with dementia, their carers and their families. This version is already adapted by the NHS Trust in Glasgow and used in several care facilities in Scotland, the UK and the US.

Making an international impact

In 2016, the Glasgow-based start-up scored a major success last summer when the team won a place at the Techstars accelerator programme in New York.

Techstars gave them an entry into the US - the biggest market for memory care in the world - and they secured additional international investment of 120,000 USD for acceptance into the programme.

And in March 2018, the company secured a further 2 million USD in funding from US and London investors.

Find out more about digital health in Scotland