In the news

Selected news articles, conferences and presentations

News articles

“Quit Genius, the YC-backed app that helps users quit smoking, has today announced the close of an additional $1.1 million, bringing their seed round to a cool $2 million. Village Global VC, Pioneer Fund, Arab Angel VC, Max Mullen of Instacart, Olivia Teich of Dropbox, Paul Rosania of Slack, Ariel Polar of Strava, Eric Reis, David Langley of Zesty, Juha Paananen of NonStop Games, and Junaid Bajwa of Merck & Co participated in the round, among others.”

“If you’re one of the 70 per cent of UK smokers that wants to quit smoking, but hasn’t yet been successful, you’ll know that kicking the habit is not easy.

Designed by leading health experts, Quit Genius is a downloadable CBT programme that’s been struggling smokers can access on their phone whenever they have the urge to light up. The ‘smoking therapy app’ is the first of it’s kind, gamifying the smoker’s journey with daily streak counts, unexpected trophies and time-based challenges.”

“Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things a person can do. But despite the products out there to help, from nicotine patches and gum to e-cigarettes to scary PSAs and government programs, few of these products actually get people to the point where they feel confident in their new nicotine-free life.

That’s where a new YC-backed company, Quit Genius, comes in.”

“London-based Digital Therapeutics has re-imagined the support network for smokers who actively want to quit. CEO Yusef Sherwani says there are ten million smokers in the UK, two-thirds of whom want to quit, but only three percent who are successful because face-to-face behavioural support isn’t sustainable. The app he has helped develop, Quit Genius, gamifies the process, while working towards a quit date.

“Quit Genius builds on decades of evidence-based therapy in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy and it just makes [the journey] more cost effective and scaleable. So we’re repacking that patient therapy relationship with a patient and an app,” he told WIRED.”

“A therapist can be a lifeline to those battling with mental health. But not everyone thinks that sitting down and speaking to a human is the answer.

“There is no basis for simply assuming that therapists are a vital component in the treatment of psychological problems.”

Are apps the answer?

The findings lead the Queensland University of Technology researchers to suggest that automated therapy should come as standard, helping those who cannot afford face-to-face help.

It’s the same ideology that’s driving health upstarts like Quit Genius – an app that uses traditional cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you to quit smoking, but costs just £6 a month. But it’s important to see this as a nuanced calling, and just like different physical injuries require different physical treatments, different mental illnesses should be treated differently.”

“It’s far better than the NHS smoking app. Maroof Ahmed’s dad stopped smoking 10 years ago, but he still coughs to this day. Many of Ahmed’s family members have never given up.

It was only as a doctor-in-training that Ahmed realised this was because all most doctors have been armed with to treat long-term smokers was the unhelpful advice of: “just go home and quit”. Along with his then-classmate Yusuf Sherwani, the duo started to explore whether smartphone apps could actually help doctors to reinforce that message.

Their research at Imperial College London into apps and gamification led to the creation of Quit Genius, an app that puts the latest smoking cessation therapies into the palm of your hand – and one that’s being proven to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.”

“Pitch@Palace, a programme set up by HRH The Duke of York in a bid to support entrepreneurs with the expansion and acceleration of their business ideas, has unveiled the 12 startups that will be pitching at the final held at St James’ Palace next month.

The companies, whittled down from 41 firms, operate across wide range of sectors including jewelry, insurance and mortgages.”

“12 finalists have been chosen from 41 companies, covering businesses ranging from wheelchair innovation to disrupting the diamond supply chain, music for pets, car sharing and a new take on financial products including insurance and mortgages.

As the theme for Pitch@Palace 8.0 is ‘The Future of Mobility and Materials’, all of the business ideas explore the potential impact that technological innovations in the mobility and connectivity sectors can have on our everyday lives.”

“A framework to gamify anti-smoking apps, and potentially improve adherence to non-smoking regimens, has been developed in a study conducted by Yusuf Sherwani, Imperial College London, London, UK, and colleagues. Today, smoking represents 19% of all the deaths within the UK, costing the National Health Service (NHS) a total of £5.2 billion, and has been announced, at present, as the biggest cause of premature mortality on a global scale.”

“Over the last year, the researchers have also been involved in translating the research findings into an app that serves as a blueprint for the framework in action. The gamified app for smoking cessation, called Quit Genius, is hoped to provide effective behavioural support to smoking cessation programmes. They note that future research is required to further appraise the effectiveness of their proposed gamified framework against current behavioural interventions.”

“The support required to address their reasons for smoking and motivations for quitting will vary drastically from person A to person B. To tackle this, we are developing our flagship product, Quit Genius, a behavioral intervention for smokers looking to quit, capable of intelligently identifying and adapting to all aspects of the user’s thoughts and feelings about smoking.”

“To truly make a dent on a global scale, digital health startups must recognize the importance of creating highly structured and personalized evidence-based behavioral therapies to tackle specific risky health behaviors. To achieve this, one approach is to create a close cross-collaboration between clinicians, behavioral psychologists, designers and developers to conceptualize, build and clinically test behavioral interventions programs.”

“Imperial medics are readying the launch of a smartphone app they’ve developed that uses CBT and principles of game design to help people quit smoking.”

“As well as a presentation of their research, the students gave a sneak peak of their app in a closed-room demo. The app is currently in beta-testing and is expected to be ready for public launch in January 2017—in time for all those New Year’s resolutions.”

“A “stop smoking” game for smartphones has been developed that incorporates elements of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The app, designed by a group of medical students, is the first to deliver personalised behavioural support to those wanting to quit tobacco.”

“Yusuf Sherwani, a medical student at Imperial College London – who led development of the app, said: “As medical students, almost every day we see patients who are suffering from the consequences of smoking cigarettes; many of whom want to quit but lack the necessary support.”

“The app, which was designed by medical students, uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) concepts to help smokers resist the urge to reach for a cigarette.”

“The details of the project were presented at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting in London. A consultant lung specialist and chair of the Society’s Tobacco Special Advisory Group called the project ‘really interesting’ and said it had the added benefit of being ‘cost-effective’ because of smartphone technology. ‘We’ll await further results with interest,’ said Dr Sanjay Agrawal.”

Speaker engagements

European Respiratory Society International Congress 2016

7th September 2016

The ERS International Congress 2016 is the world’s largest respiratory meeting, attended by tens of thousands of respiratory physicians, scientists and allied health professionals over three days. At the 2016 conference, we presented seminal research in behavioural economics and gamification, demonstrating Quit Genius to a live audience for the very first time!

Science Museum Lates: Could computer games be the key to battling addictions?

27th July 2016

We answer the question, “Could computer games be the key to battling addictions?”, by presenting novel research in the best possible way – a live gameshow!

British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting 2015

4th December 2015

We present the results of a year long academic study examining how digital health interventions can revolutionise smoking cessation, remarked by the session chair, Prof. John Britton, as the ‘best presentation ever seen at the British Thoracic Society’.

We regularly speak at university events, startup panels and academic conferences. For speaker engagements, email us at

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