Meet the Students: Chiara Masci

A chat with Chiara Masci, student of the Executive Master's program in Management and Innovation of Lifesciences

Hi Chiara! Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to study at H-FARM College…? 

I like to define myself by using two adjectives and remembering my main interests: I am creative, brave and passionate about neurotechnology, mental health and startups.

I received a bachelor's degree in computer science from Unibz in 2020 but am currently completing a master's degree in engineering that started at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (first year of the master's program "Human Centered Sciences and Biomedical Engineering") and continued at the British Open University. At the same time, I am pursuing an Executive Master's degree in Management and Innovation of Lifesciences at H-FARM College to obtain the necessary skills for medical device manufacturing and commercialization.

From a work perspective, I have been a freelancer since 2019 and have had the pleasure of collaborating with universities such as Tokyo Institute of Technology, IULM, and Università Politecnica delle Marche in the area of Brain-Computer Interface and Computer Vision system development. In addition, I have professional and entrepreneurial experience with CatchSolve, a startup incubated at NOI Techpark in the area of software and data quality testing.

I chose to study in H-FARM College when I felt the need to gain more specific skills in launching startups in the medical field. In fact, during the first year of my master's degree I had started designing Nearine, the startup I am now bringing to life.

How did the idea for Nearine come about and what does this project consist of?

As is often the case, behind the idea of a startup is a personal story that was intertwined with opportunities and insights brought in from the outside. 

During my first year of master's degree I had a significant depressive episode that lasted about six months. When I realized that my strong behavioral changes were due to this I was very impressed to see how depression is capable of "making you a shadow of yourself" without you even realizing it. 

Driven by my interest in cognitive neuroscience and my personal experience, I felt an innate need to use my skills to give a tool to people who were experiencing the same situation as me. I wanted to give my best so that no one else would become a shadow of himself.

And so Nearine was born.

Nearine is a mobile and smartwatch app that supports people suffering from anxiety and mild depression to help them manage and understand their symptoms with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic pathways.

The mobile app helps users understand the neuroscientific dynamics of their mental health through trend analysis and correlations of biometric (heart rate variation, heart rate, breaths per minute, menstrual cycle) and behavioral (hours of sleep, hours of focused activity, sports activity, psychological tests) data.
This is done through a personalized plan that guides the user in compiling data, analyzing significant trends, learning related neuroscientific concepts, and performing breathing exercises according to set goals.

The smartwatch app is concerned with giving an "emotional boost" to help the user manage mental and physical stress and decrease it. Through the analysis of biometric values-specifically heart rate variability-it calculates trends in psychological stress level. In case it is rising, the smartwatch emits a pattern of vibrations designed to stimulate enteroception, which plays a key role in mood regulation and symptoms of depression.

What of what you learned in H-FARM College or within the H-FARM ecosystem helped you in the creation of Nearine?

The Executive Master's in Management and Innovation of Lifesciences allowed me to see the startup world as I had never seen it before-I understood how the process of starting a startup changes profoundly depending on the industry.

Unlike other industries, healthcare startups thrive on close collaboration with the research world and cautious planning of regulatory aspects, clinical trials, intellectual property, and resources at their disposal. 

Before starting the Executive Master's program, I had no idea how to manage this complexity and how to interface with people in the industry to be supported in this journey with a thousand obstacles. Now I feel I have more clarity on how the world of innovation in healthcare works and how to put together the key pieces to plan a business and development strategy suitable for this sector.
In addition, H-FARM College has allowed me to be able to engage with experts in the field to get advice on my project.

How do you see the future of Nearine? 

From a business perspective, the first adjective that comes to mind is "long." 
I know that bringing Nearine to life will take years and consequently this will require a lot of perseverance even in the face of the difficulties I will encounter. It will certainly be a very complex path, especially because of the legal and regulatory part, which implies a longer duration of the "go-to-market" phase and more precision and order during the development phase of both the app and the business infrastructure.

As for the future of Nearine itself, though, I imagine it will be "a breath of fresh air" in the field of mental health in Europe. Nearine aspires to give the keys to accessing the understanding of the human mind and the normalization of everything that is considered to be a defect. 

Indeed, we must remember that depression and anxiety are nothing more than defense mechanisms that our mind implements to point out to us that something is wrong. Until we see mental health in 360°-that is, including both psychosocial and neuroscientific factors-we will not have the chance to listen to these alarm bells and heal.

Linkedin profile Chiara Masci
Liadan Maire Gunter Linkedin profile
IG Nearine page