Digital agency Corporation Pop has been awarded £50,000 of funding to develop a hospital app which uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to help young patients.

An avatar on the Patient’s Virtual Guide keeps children company and gives them information as they pass through the system, reducing stress and anxiety about their treatment and surroundings.

The funding is from the Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed funding programme, which backs early-stage social tech ventures. A total of £374,763 has been allocated to eight companies in this seventh round.

“This is a very personal project for me. In 2011 my then 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Her journey through the NHS system was characterised by a lack of information at every stage of the process which left her with a deep mistrust of the medical system,” said Corporation Pop managing director Dom Raban.

“Thankfully my daughter will soon be celebrating five years cancer free, but her experience left me wanting to use my professional capability to respond to the problem and find a technology solution that could meet the information needs of young people about to embark on an often traumatic and stressful hospital journey.

“With this fantastic support from Nominet Trust we can now begin the next crucial stage of development.”

Raban contributed to our podcast on the future of AR, virtual reality and 3D sound recently.

He will be among the speakers at our breakfast event ‘How can businesses harness the power of VR and AR?’ in Manchester on Thursday 8th June. Sign up for free here.

Corporation Pop has worked on the project for almost two years and last year received funding from NHS technology network TITCH - Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health - as it seeks to move closer to bringing the app to market.

Peter-Marc Fortune, associate clinical head at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Corporation Pop’s clinical consultant, said: “I have yet to show the pilot app to anyone – of any age – who has not positively engaged with it.

“This technology has the potential to greatly improve the healthcare experience for people of all ages across the NHS.”

The other companies to receive funding from the Nominet Trust are Disrupt Disability, which is transforming the way wheelchairs are designed, manufactured and distributed; media co-op’s incident recording app, which seeks to empower victims of stalking; TapSOS, which has developed an app to help people with limited communication ability contact the emergency services; Neurofenix, whose Gameball Platform revolutionises rehabilitation therapy for stroke survivors through games and social networking; Tiny Medical Apps, which has developed a gamification app, Learnable, to encourage teenagers to keep taking their asthma medication; Mapmyhealth, which is helping diabetes patients self-manage their condition; and Just: Transcription, an automated speech-to-text service that produces fast, accurate and cost-effective court transcripts.

Vicki Hearn, director of the Nominet Trust, said: “The UK has a burgeoning social tech sector, but access to funding for start-ups at the very early stages of their development remains limited – yet this is crucial to enable social innovators to test their ideas and unlock the potential of digital tech to improve lives.

“Nominet Trust is proud to support these eight new ventures via our Social Tech Seed programme, which has been hugely successful in kick-starting dozens of similarly exciting new projects. We’re looking forward to seeing how they develop.”