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Coggi: promoting children’s psychological well-being with the support of the Bucks Health Tech Hub

Bucks Health Tech Hub customer, Pep Stonor, began her journey to create ground breaking children’s wellbeing app Coggi during her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at Bucks New University in 2019.

Focusing her research on UK secondary school wellbeing programmes and their efficacy in preparing young people for university, it was then Pep became passionate about preventative mental health. Her research left her pondering why young people were not taught psychological skills early to give them the best chance of looking after their own wellbeing. *Approximately 13-27% of children globally are affected by chronic conditions that require regular treatment or medical care - which usually involves specialist follow-up through outpatient department visits or use of support services such as physiotherapy or speech and language therapy

Preventing mental health issues occurring or escalating is at the heart of Pep’s vision and from here Coggi was born - a unique digital chameleon buddy that can help change and boost children’s psychological health.

Using the latest academic research, Coggi delivers positive psychology tools through a mobile app using immersive Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Coggi is a child-friendly name to reflect cognition – the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding of thought, senses and experience.

Access to psychological support and resource in the UK is scarce and the average wait time for children and young people’s mental health services is over seven weeks and even longer between the first and second appointments, depending on where you live in the UK. COVID-19 has made this situation worse, with unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems and staff.

In order to help provide the right building blocks for her business Pep turned to Oxford Innovation’s network for guidance in 2020, having attended the launch of the new Bucks Health Tech Hub in March 2020 which is managed by Oxford Innovation.

Jim Gabriel, the Bucks Health Tech Hub’s Entrepreneur in Residence, has been helping her formulate her business and financial plans to develop Coggi Technologies.

Pep says: “Starting a business is exciting and challenging. Having the support of the Health Tech Hub is great and keeps my links with my academic university support network.

“Having access to Jim Gabriel is like gold dust for a tech start-up entrepreneur. He has successfully walked the road you are starting on and his experience is invaluable to business development and keeping everything in perspective”.

Pep believes that early intervention and home treatment can prevent many of the mental health issues arising from hospitalisation becoming more complicated and ingrained. She also believes the focus of psychological intervention should not only be on reducing the psychological difficulty or distress from an illness, but also on improving the patient experience, the treatment outcomes and on the promotion of wellbeing and quality of

life. Leaving adolescent mental health conditions unaddressed has life-long consequences, impairs both physical and future mental health and limits opportunities to lead fulfilling lives.

As Pep explains: “Promoting psychological well-being skills during childhood and adolescence creates the building blocks for young people to thrive as adults.”

“The vision of Coggi Technologies is to engage a digitally-native generation of children through technology to promote their own psychological well-being and to prevent mental health problems from occurring or escalating.”

Jim Gabriel added “The alumni program is a splendid example of how Bucks New University is progressing support for entrepreneurial graduates and post-graduates and encouraging by example. Oxford Innovation is able to support these early-stage businesses through the partnership between the two organisations, thus creating a win-win-win.”

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