NordicNeuroLab: improving treatment of depression with MRI-based technology

The DEPREDICT project received a 3-year €2.3 million award from Eureka Eurostars, which supports consortium projects of up to 5 partners, led by an R&D performing SME. Read our interview with Marte Theuen, PhD, who was Project Coordinator of DEPREDICT for 1.5 years, until stepping down from her position as Chief Technology Officer at NordicNeuroLab and being succeeded by Tina Pavlin, PhD, who now leads the project.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) has a massive impact on the quality of life of people around the globe, affecting over 300 million people at any given moment. Luckily, researchers and companies such as NordicNeuroLab in Bergen, Norway, aim to leverage the latest advancements in neurology and imaging technologies to battle this condition. Through international collaborations with leading scientists, NordicNeuroLab is developing an MRI data-analysis technique that will make it much easier to monitor how MDD patients respond to anti-depressive medication.

The DEPREDICT project was able to convince the reviewers committee by demonstrating excellent competences in terms of science, business, and interdisciplinary collaboration. DEPREDICT is comprised of 2 companies (NordicNeuroLab and VUNO) and 2 academic partners (Oslo University Hospital and Academic Medical Center Amsterdam) with a common goal: early assessment of antidepressant efficacy in patients suffering from MDD. The following interview with Marte Theuen, PhD, gives some more insight into the company and the vital role Catalyze played in securing the grant that enabled execution of the DEPREDICT project.


“Having Catalyze take care of the writing saved us a lot of time. But also, I do not think we could have put together something of such high quality. I think we wouldn’t have won without Catalyze.”


NordicNeuroLab: innovating in medtech

NordicNeuroLab is a medical technology company that provides both software and hardware to hospitals. Their technology provides images of brain and body function so that clinicians can plan and perform treatment tailored to each individual patient’s pathology.

We have recently began the process of launching the next generation of our image analysis software which includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) based analyses.”

Marte says, “The Eurostars project fits very well in the development timeline of the company”.

DEPREDICT is powered by complimentary expertise

The DEPREDICT project aims to develop AI-based software programs for predicting the outcomes of therapy for patients with depression. Ultimately, the project hopes to reduce the time taken to find an antidepressant drug that patients respond to by 75%. DEPREDICT is executed by a typical Eurostars consortium of 4 partners, led by NordicNeuroLab.

Marte explains, “The consortium has two academic research groups that are focussed on MRI data collection. In addition, we are also working with VUNO, a Korean company with expertise in applying AI to medical image analysis. At NordicNeuroLab we put all the academic data and AI algorithms together to develop easy-to-use software for clinicians. We couldn’t have done this project without the other partners.”

Building the ideal consortium for DEPREDICT

NordicNeuroLab had experience in working within a consortium, but not as a main applicant. Thus, Catalyze’s support in the consortium-building process was very helpful for NordicNeuroLab’s successful application.

Marte highlights the added value of this support, “Developing these partnerships, preparing the administration for the application, and making clear agreements on the division of work in the projects takes a lot of work and responsibility. For these international collaborations it was really helpful to work together with Catalyze.”

Marte continues, “It is often challenging for companies themselves to get good connections with Academics. In addition to the MRI data, the input from academic and clinical partners also helps us to develop a product that is most helpful to the end users. The product will be installed at the Academic and Clinical institutions giving valuable feedback, which we can use to further optimise the product.”

Bringing DEPREDICT to life with a winning application

Applying to Eurostars is often complex, as different rules apply to different countries. We asked Marte what it meant to have Catalyze’s support in the application process.

Marte says, Catalyze’s experience was extremely useful. I also worked with local consulting companies, but their scientific understanding was sometimes not the best. Catalyze knew what is important and what is not, and was able to find a lot of useful new information. Also, the proposal was very well written. The content, writing style, and the flow of the story were great. The graphics were of high quality and made the proposal look very professional.

“Having Catalyze take care of the writing saved us a lot of time. But also, I do not think we could have put together something of such high quality. I think we wouldn’t have won without Catalyze.”

Ensuring maximum focus with Catalyze Project Management service

Once the project is awarded and the celebrations are over, it is time to get started. Here, Catalyze offers the project management service to allow project leaders maximum time to focus on the science.

Marte describes the ongoing collaboration with the Project Management team at Catalyze:

“Project management services are very valuable. It is very helpful to be advised on the time control for the deliverable reports. If you miss a deadline, it could have huge consequences. Sharing this responsibility feels good. Catalyze knows what is expected from Eureka, such as the ethic evaluation. This avoids unpleasant surprises. Also, if there would be any issues with the consortium it can be great to have a neutral partner on board that can mediate the formal discussions. Catalyze also organizes monthly meetings to keep the consortium aligned with project progress and administration.”

“With Catalyze we feel that we are in good hands. We really get the feeling that we can count on you.”

Looking forward: The Future of NordicNeuroLab

Marte goes on to elaborate on the companies next steps: “We want to continue development of our MRI analysis for tumour evaluation and surgical planning. On the other hand, we want to use the same tools and functionality for other patient groups. The Psychiatry market is huge and the DEPREDICT project has helped to put more focus on this patient group. As a company we always want to expand to see if we can be useful in other markets and we see a huge need in this market.”

Marte: “We clearly see that AI is coming more and more into the medical field. We are very interested in these developments and now we can also collaborate with other companies that have this expertise. There are of course issues related to AI, but I think the combination of AI and the personal approach of a clinician is very powerful.”


Project win: €2.3 million


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