Meet the Founders: VocDec

Meet the Founders: VocDec

We sat down with VocDec to hear more about their groundbreaking vision: building an algorithm for early diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder based on newborns cry-pattern analysis. 

VocDec has recently been selected by EIT Jumpstarter as 2020 Top 6 early stage Healthcare startups of Europe. This gives them the opportunity and honour to pitch at the EIT Jumpstarter finals and the chance to be selected as one of Europe’s top innovators! If you would like to see VocDec perform their best pitch, sign up to watch the online final here: 

Meet Rob Schubert, Fereshteh Shahrabi, Marju Tomson and Karin Kõnd

What is the problem you are solving?

Marju: Our aim is to improve lives via earlier detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Rob: ASD constitutes a substantial burden to healthcare-related costs. Its prevalence is growing worldwide, yet the current diagnose pathway is not nearly as efficient as needed. More often than not, patients are diagnosed too late.

Fereshteh: Currently, ASD is not detected before the second year of life. The reason for such late diagnosis is that current available diagnostic tests for ASD are based on the assessment of unusual social interaction, play, preferences for fixed routines, and verbal and non-verbal communication. VocDec brings the possibility of detecting ASD forward to the first day of life through a standardized, reliable method.

Karin: We want to help parents understand their children. By accelerating diagnosis, we will bring peace of mind to the worries related to ASD.

Why is now the right time to solve this problem?

Karin: We live in the age of Artificial Intelligence. By merging technology with conventional diagnostic methods, we can help to diagnose complex diseases and improve health outcomes. 

Marju: Growth in ASD prevalence requires a new diagnostics pathway that is better and faster.

Fereshteh: As Marju mentioned, prevalence of ASD is growing at a high rate worldwide. We need to intervene faster: delayed diagnosis results in late, less effective treatment. 

Rob: Currently, there is a high pressure to lower healthcare-related costs in order to keep healthcare sustainable. This creates a favourable environment to implement new solutions that meaningfully improve people’s lives. We want to be part of this new wave of healthcare innovation.

How are you different from your competitors?

Marju: VocDec diagnostics is based on baby cry pattern analysis, a marker that is not used in any other ASD diagnostics method. 

Rob: By sound analysis the diagnosis can be done at a significantly earlier stage. 

Fereshteh: Our diagnostics method can detect ASD on the first day of life while providing a reliable diagnosis.

Karin: We can analyse the only way babies use to communicate, cry patterns, and understand through them infants’ health risks.

What is the recipe for a successful team?

Rob: Diversity in background, culture, expertise and experience. 

Karin: Common aim, wish to change the world, flexibility to work in uncertain conditions, expertise in the field.

Marju: Focus, devotion, skills, timing, luck.

Fereshteh: Good leadership, consistency, devotion.

What will the newspaper headlines write about your company in 5 years?

Karin: First ASD screening program based on software algorithm – a revolution in healthcare.

Marju: Growing number of families have been helped with our solution.

Rob: VocDec – The solution that screens all babies for ASD in Estonia.

Fereshteh: VocDec has brought a revolution in the field of ASD.


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