App helping people with dementia set to go international

Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and her husband Przemysław Wiktor: the brains behind app. Dr. Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and Przemysław Wiktor

A couple from Kraków have created an app to help care providers working with people with dementia.

Doctor Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and her husband Przemysław Wiktor are eying international expansion after launching the app, Minnity, at the end of last year.

Their company was started in Sweden where Przemysław works as a developer for music streaming app Spotify. The couple have lived there since 2014 and after much deliberation decided that they’d launch their start-up there too, with the name coming from the Swedish word ‘minne’, meaning memory.

The app provides information to the care-giver about their patient.Dr. Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and Przemysław Wiktor

“We have received a lot of support in Sweden for the start-up, from the KI Innovations (Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB), Vinnova, Invest Stockholm and Stockholm Digital Care,” Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor, co-founder and CEO of Minnity, told TFN. “This support and the structured care system in Scandinavia made it the right place to launch Minnity. The formal home care system is very important here and helping caregivers deliver better care and increased job satisfaction motivates us.”  

The application is targeted at care professionals not the care recipient. It gives the provider additional, non-medical information that might not have been conveyed in traditional medical files. The care provider can get to know a client, how they like their food prepared, which conversation topics or foods they prefer and the app will even provide media files such as music and pictures to help approach each client in a way that best suits them. The company website describes their vision succinctly as: “Minnity helps people with cognitive impairment to have a dignified and meaningful life.”

“Our goal is to facilitate cooperation and communication between home care staff and people with dementia,” Hess-Wiktor told TFN.Dr. Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and Przemysław Wiktor

The app currently offers a bridge between the care recipient and caregivers but the company has been working hard to develop bite-sized training modules that will help upskill care givers. Minnity has a small but diverse team, along with the husband and wife, there is Sofia Jörnlid and Yuliia Povstiana who are working hard to process feedback and improve the functionality of the app. They co-operate with the Polish based firm NibyNIC, which provide front-end solutions for the app.

 “Along with the training modules we would like to implement speech to text interface, allowing caregivers to work hands free. Similarly text to speech functionality would be beneficial when introducing new caregivers to the care recipients,” Hess-Wiktor told TFN.

 Minnity are working with Memocate from Finland and AG&D, which is based in France, to help them improve the training aspects of the application and understand those markets better. Although they are a young company, they have already been recognized as ‘Startup of the Year’ and ‘Best Health Tech Startup’ nominees for the Swedish finals of the Nordic Startup Awards and were finalists in the Stockholm Innovation Scholarship.

 The company is currently seeking an investor to help their expansion that could see them expand into nursing homes and markets such as Poland. Dr. Katarzyna Hess-Wiktor and Przemysław Wiktor

“Our goal is to facilitate cooperation and communication between home care staff and people with dementia,” Hess-Wiktor told TFN. “The Minnity app is not just a digital tool. Behind it, there are nine years of study in psychology and habits of people living with Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases. Moreover, we have extensive experience in dementia care and product development. Minnity also listens carefully to the user needs and bases our solution on real-life needs and demands.”

 The company is currently seeking the right investment partner to help them fulfil a five-year development plan that could see them expand into nursing homes and markets such as Poland. In the long term the app could be adapted to help carers who assist people with autism and others who have long term psychological care needs.