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Columbia Business Monthly

Cogito Produces Wearable Devices to Help Doctors Diagnose Neurological Disorders

Oct 04, 2023 04:01PM ● By Angelia Davis

They like to call themselves “the neuro-feedback company.”

The company’s name is Cogito LLC, and it is a Greenville, S.C.-based bio-neuroinformatics company that produces “robust tools to advance the detection, diagnosis, and prognosis of neurological disorders,” according to its website.

One such tool Cogito is producing is a non-invasive wearable device that could be used to help clinicians make diagnoses as well as prognoses.

“Our goal is getting feedback,” said Dr. Sam Yeboah, Cogito’s chief medical officer and creative director. “We’re getting information about what’s happening in your mind. We’re able to capture things that are going on with your mental state.”

Cogito was founded by Dr. Brandon Williams, who is its CEO. Yogesh “Yogi” Rana is a co-founder and the COO.

Both Williams and Rana are Clemson University graduates and have backgrounds in mechanical engineering.

Williams and Yeboah met at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, while serving as instructors for Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP), a summer academic enrichment program for gifted middle and high school students.

Williams was teaching an engineering course, and Yeboah taught anatomy and physiology.

After the sessions were over, the two kept in touch. At one point, Williams told Yeboah about the company he had started and that they had an idea they wanted to explore with wearable devices.

“I was like, ‘OK. Sure. Put me on. We can see what can happen,’” Yeboah said.

Cogito was registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State in 2019.

Over time, Yeboah said, the company has been fortunate to create and work on “a device that has the capability, we feel, to support clinicians and even in the long run, give a better understanding of things that are happening neurologically in people’s minds.”

The company’s name itself means the existence of being from your ability to think and have an awareness, Yeboah said. 

It was a nice fit to the company’s focus on the mind and on trying to get a better picture of what’s happening from a mental standpoint in individuals or patients, he said.

To help achieve them achieve their goals, the company is constantly on the hunt for different ventures and grants to secure funding.

According to Yeboah, the company won funding from the South Carolina Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Phase-0 program to help with its start and to develop their product.

After getting their product, the company was able to do a proof of concept, via an institutional study with Dr. Nicholas Boltin of the University of South Carolina, Yeboah said.

They were informed via email about potential funding through the Inaugural $30K PowerUp Competition for South Carolina.

The $30K PowerUp Competition, presented by Integrated Media Publishing and Erik Weir, is offering startups a chance to win $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.

Cogito applied to compete in the $30K PowerUp Competition in hopes of securing more funding to complete a full patent for their product, Yeboah said.

Patenting the product is one of Cogito’s short-term goals, Yeboah said. After it’s patented, “we hope to have more collaborations,” he said.

“The product that we have is something that we feel can be implemented by so many people, especially like first responders,” he said. “We think it will be very good for clinicians and especially with mental illness and mental health. We think it’s something that can be very informative and supportive of that as well.”

The company’s goal is to have its product at use in offices, hospitals and even by individuals at home.

An individual could use the device to see what’s happening during their fitness training session, Yeboah said.

“We’re able to capture things that are going on in your mental state at a particular time or period,” he said.

“I think our biggest goal was that we wanted to make sure that this was evidence-based medicine, that we had the evidence behind the product,” he said. “Not just more so having a product, but having the data to support the product.”

One of the challenges for Cogito is that it’s been a slow process because of all the work they’ve had to do, Yeboah said.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but sometimes an initial patent can cost anywhere from $20K to $50K,” he said. “And the fact is that even if you have your product, you might just be left with a product you can’t show to somebody, you can’t do anything about until you get the patent. Now you’re just left with something that’s maybe sitting on a shelf because of a lack of funding.

“We’re only a group of three and so you can obviously imagine how difficult it is for a group of three people who each are in school, have families, and are trying to manage, do a business, and do something innovative at the same time,” Yeboah said.

“I feel like the funding shouldn’t be something that sometimes stops innovation in which oftentimes it is,” he said.