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Health Tech Startup HabitAware Lands $225K Grant from National Science Foundation

The grant will allow St. Louis Park-based HabitAware to design and test a new sensor for its wearable device, which is aimed at stopping obsessive physical behaviors.

Health Tech Startup HabitAware Lands $225K Grant from National Science Foundation
Aneela Idnani Kumar, HabitAware's co-founder and marketing and design lead. (Photo courtesy of HabitAware)

St. Louis Park-based HabitAware has been awarded a $224,795 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant will be used to design and test a new sensor for HabitAware’s wearable device aimed at curbing obsessive behaviors like skin picking, hair pulling, and nail biting.

This is the second SBIR research grant HabitAware has received; the first came through the National Institute of Mental Health. The news comes comes less than a year after the company won $400,000 in the Metropolitan Economic Development Association’s Million Dollar Challenge, a competition for minority entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2016, HabitAware is focused on helping people stop compulsive, harmful body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). “Keen,” the company’s signature wearable device, uses gesture detection technology to monitor such behavior. The device vibrates to help the wearer stop obsessive behaviors.

Keen hit the market in 2017, and the company has seen rapid growth ever since. Co-founder Aneela Idnani Kumar told TCB in September that there’s a significant market for it—nearly 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from BFRBs to a debilitating degree. The company ships the product worldwide.

“This project has the potential to be a game-changing innovation for those suffering from these under-addressed disorders,” said John Pritchard, HabitAware’s lead hardware engineer and research grant principal investigator, in a company blog post.
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