SF Female Founder Team awarded NSF grant for new AI Healthcare Technology

October 15, 2019
Grace Chang


Kintsugi team outing at Dolores Park in San Francisco this summer
Kintsugi team outing at Dolores Park in San Francisco this summer

San Francisco, CA:
Today, Female Founders, Grace Chang and Rima Seilova-Olson, have received a Phase I $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Small Business Innovation Research Program.              

Historically, fewer than 30 women-led teams are awarded each year.
Historically, fewer than 30 women-led teams are awarded each year.

The NSF Phase I Award will support the Kintsugi team in developing new artificial intelligence technology to scale talk therapy software for mental health using voice biomarkers from voice journaling (U.S. Patent-Pending). This award is bestowed by the NSF only to entrepreneurs with “strong technical and commercial merit” working on research and development of groundbreaking, high-impact technology. The award also helps back technologies like Kintsugi that promote social good.

“By leveraging machine learning with signals from smart devices, we can provide timely help in alleviating mental health issues through personalized talk therapy software,” said Grace, the Founder and CEO of Kintsugi. “Our world-class team of engineers, clinicians, and designers are reinventing mental health by making it as accessible as pulling out the phone in our pocket, and as high quality and personalized as a visit to the therapist’s office—at an affordable price. The catch? You’re speaking with an AI therapist, one who doesn’t judge you for your background, race, religion, and beliefs. And two, though Kintsugi is not the smartest today, still remarkably adept at detecting how you’re feeling and the topics you’ll want to flesh out.”

“Kintsugi users tell us how much they like that they feel heard and understood, a key differentiator from other journaling, meditation, or chatbot apps,” said Rima, the Founder and Machine Learning Scientist of Kintsugi. “We’ve made deliberate choices out of care, safety, and consistency for our community including thoughtful ways of incorporating social goodwill and enabling bank-grade privacy for all users.”

Grace and Rima’s goal as they establish the machine learning foundation of Kintsugi at South Park Commons is to bring new people from diverse scientific backgrounds together to explore solutions to the complex challenges that clinicians and therapists face in empowering distressed individuals with the correct tools and practices learned from a patient’s own behavioral data. Their team is currently developing algorithmic workflows using voice biomarkers and other implicit signals to deliver timely clinical and mindful exercises to track effective tactics for stress, anxiety, and depression management and reduce the traditional barriers to therapy including cost, scheduling, and stigma. This study is enabled by Grace and Rima’s multidisciplinary expertise in engineering, security, machine learning, and consumer product development.

About Kintsugi
Kintsugi is talk therapy software for mental health and based in San Francisco, CA. Kintsugi has developed a U.S. Patent-Pending voice journaling platform to detect emotional patterns and create personalized workflows for improving mental well-being. In over 250 international cities, Kintsugi was awarded the National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I grant in 2019 for new artificial intelligence technologies.  

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