Lucy Soo Min Jung studied MSc Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial, graduating in 2019. This MSc/MA Innovation Design Engineering programme is jointly run by Imperial and the Royal College of Art – read more about the course.

During her Master's, Lucy co-founded Charco Neurotech, which makes wearable tech to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms – check out this Imperial news article profiling the start-up

In February 2021, the Imperial College Investment Fund (ICIF), an early-stage investment fund launched in early 2020, announced that it had made its first investment, of £205,000, in Charco Neurotech. The company will launch its non-invasive device - CUE1 - in the UK and EU in early 2021. See the announcement in this Imperial news story.

In July 2020, Charco Neurotech was one of the 21 teams from Imperial shortlisted in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition – read more about the competition semi-finals. In September 2020, Charco Neurotech were also named the winners of the Imperial College London-LSE virtual demo day, pitching their business idea alongside other Imperial alumni start-ups – find out more about the showcase.

As CEO of Charco Neurotech, Lucy works alongside other Imperial graduates: Alex Dallman-Porter (Operations Manager), Adrien De Saint Victor (Project Manager), and Fahd Abdeljallal (Medical Software Engineer). Head to Charco Neurotech’s website to see the whole team.

We spoke to Lucy about her time at Imperial and how it led her to founding her innovative start-up.

Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?

Studying Innovation Design Engineering helped me find what I really wanted to do as my career. My professors and tutors were all supportive and encouraged the thinking, planning and executing of projects.

What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?

Working in the workshop, developing a network through approaching specialists and experts in the area, and looking at the bigger picture to turn a project into reality.

Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?

During my Master's, certain professors (Miles Pennington at the RCA, and Peter Childs at Imperial) were a huge inspiration for me. Identifying a problem and coming up with a solution using technology was exactly what I wanted to learn, and this was what I learnt through them. 

From project to start-up, Govind Pindoria has been an absolute inspiration for the Charco founders. Having Govind as a mentor right from the beginning of our journey has helped us to develop into what we are today. He always gave impartial advice, asking questions that nurtured our thinking process.

Dr Govind Pindoria is Executive Director of Imperial College Innovations, and now sits on the board of Charco Neurotech as a Non-Executive Director. Take a look at Govind's profile on the Imperial Startup Team's website.

What is your fondest memory of your time here? 

Working together with the team on a project in the workshops was invaluable time for me. It was a tough schedule, but I learnt so much from tutors and our cohort.

What is your favourite place at Imperial and why?

The workshop: it was the place that we spent most of the time developing prototypes and working on projects, as well as having discussions with team members.

Can you tell us a bit about the start-up you are working on?

Charco Neurotech combines design engineers and medical professionals, working together with people with Parkinson's. We have developed CUE1, a non-invasive wearable device utilising pulsed cueing and focused vibrotactile stimulation to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s.

The effects are immediate and additional to current medical management, so users can switch the device on and off whenever they require it. It has three main functions. The first is to restore motor function through unique vibrotactile stimulation. The second, inspired by users in the testing phase, is a discreet medication alert system. The third is tracking progression of the symptoms. 

CUE1 is a perfect example of how a design-project-based approach can lead to a device that improves people's quality of life.

Head to Charco Neurotech’s website to find out more about their work.

How has Imperial helped you in your career so far?

The project started while I was doing my Master's course in Innovation Design Engineering. We visited Imperial's Enterprise Lab, and the journey started from there. We started getting newsletters from the Enterprise Lab which introduced us to lots of programs and grant opportunities. 

Sign up to the Enterprise Lab’s newsletter on their website.

Through that newsletter, we applied for the White City Innovators' Programme (run by the Imperial White City Incubator) where we met with Dr Govind Pindoria, our mentor, and now our Non-Executive Director. It was on this Innovations programme that we first pitched our idea, and where we decided to start this journey.

We also joined the Imperial-led MedTech SuperConnector and Innovation RCA, which gave us pre-seed money to start the company. Additionally, we joined IVMS (Imperial Venture Mentoring Service) where we received mentoring from various experts. Pitching at events and competitions also allowed us to network, and this network was key for us to develop Charco.

What have been your career highlights and lowlights?

For us, the highlights are always the user testing, when we are out testing with people with Parkinson’s. Hearing them say that they like the device, seeing them go for a long walk with the device or dancing, and having them tell us about how they felt better - these are our absolute highlights! 

The hardest thing is having people wait for the device, then not getting a chance to actually use it before passing away.

What are your plans for the future? 

To reach as many people with Parkinson’s as possible and listen to what they say about how we can make their life easier and better. 

To design tailored solutions for other neurological ailments from a user-centred design approach.

What would your advice be for fellow entrepreneurs?

If you have a strong vision and you believe in it, always go for it.

What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?

The incredible support that you get throughout the process.

What one word or phrase would you use to describe Imperial alumni?