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Global boost for Sheffield sleep aid company

From left: Dr Ash Patel, head of research at Mercia Fund Managers, Dr Maan van de Werken, chief scientific officer, Richard di Benedetto, chairman, Richard Mills, founder and CEO.
From left: Dr Ash Patel, head of research at Mercia Fund Managers, Dr Maan van de Werken, chief scientific officer, Richard di Benedetto, chairman, Richard Mills, founder and CEO.

A Sheffield sleep aid company has signed the boss of one of the world’s largest health insurers as it prepares to raise £4.8m to commercialise the product.

Richard di Benedetto, the president of Aetna International, has pledged a six-figure investment of his own money as he becomes director and non-executive chairman of Braintrain2020.

It comes as the company launches a £4.8m fundraise, and investor Mercia plans more investment.

Braintrain2020 makes SleepCogni, a patented sleep aid with a hoop that produces sounds and lights designed to send people to sleep.

It was devised by Sheffield inventor Richard MIlls after he suffered insomnia for 10 years.

Aetna International is about to be snapped up for $69bn by CVS Health and Mr di Benedetto is set to continue in his role as president.

It is hoped he will help Braintrain2020 crack the US and insurances markets.

He said: “As chairman of Braintrain2020, and also as a personal investor in SleepCogni, I see an enormous growth opportunity ahead of us with the potential to help many people live healthier lives.

“Demand for healthcare across the world has never been so great. Populations are increasing and ageing, people are better informed, technology continues to develop at pace, and there is an unprecedented increase in the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases.

“Innovative approaches are required to meet these evolving demands and I passionately believe that we need to shift our focus from treatment to prevention.

“For this reason, I am very excited about SleepCogni. There is overwhelming clinical evidence which shows that disrupted sleep is a major factor in many physical and mental illnesses.

“If we can help people to rebuild healthy sleep patterns, we can improve their overall health and ultimately their quality of life.”

Richard Mills, Braintrain2020 founder and CEO, said: “Attracting such an experienced leader in the healthcare industry to the role of chairman is testament to our achievements to date and how far we have come in such a short period of time.

“We are delighted to have Richard’s backing and shared vision in place as we commence our fundraise and we have no doubt that his experience and knowledge will be instrumental in guiding and strengthening the management team as we look to commercialise SleepCogni into the US sleep clinic market in 2020.”

SIGNIFICANT FUNDING

Last year Braintrain2020 received a government grant of almost £500,000.

The year before, Mercia Fund Managers invested £485,000.

It now plans further investment. SleepCogni could be on sale next year. Braintrain2020 is based at the Kroto Innovation Centre, part of Sheffield University.