Miri Polachek has recently taken the helm at Joy Ventures as CEO. What are the growing trends she sees in neurowellness, and how is Joy Ventures positioned to lead this quickly evolving and growing sector?
“The really exciting thing about neurowellness is that very soon, it will impact our lives in ways we never thought possible,” says Miri Polachek, who recently joined Joy Ventures as CEO, after six years as founding Executive Director of Israel Brain Technologies (IBT). A number of disciplines and developments are maturing in this unique moment in time, giving us the ability to develop tools that can make us happier, more relaxed, and emotionally balanced during the day. Polachek cites the clearer scientific understanding of mechanisms that affect plasticity – or adaptability – of the human brain, together with technological advancements in sensing, cloud computing and machine learning which can provide “fertile ground” for consumer products promoting neurowellness.
“Imagine a world in which we can spend a few minutes every day interacting with a product – be it our phone or something else – and emerge refreshed, energized, relaxed, or inspired,” says Polachek. “Up until today we’ve seen many examples of the negative impact of the smartphone and social media on our mental and emotional wellbeing, as evidenced by rising rates in anxiety in millennials, for example. It’s time to leverage technology to create some positive impact instead!”
Joy Ventures’ is advancing neurowellness in both industry and academia. The Joy serves as a strategic investor and partner to startups, providing subject matter expertise and a global network. It also supports academic research through grant programs supporting science in areas such as emotion sensing and stress resilience.
But the first major step in the actualization of the neurowellness sphere is creating awareness and building an engaged community. We all know that we can, for example, be healthier if we exercise our bodies and eat the right food, but many people have not yet made the switch into understanding that we have the ability (and need) to maintain our mental and emotional well-being too. The Joy Ventures team foresees that this switch in mindset and focus will also happen in industry– when innovators and entrepreneurs realize that the neurowellness market opportunity is growing, they will direct their efforts to developing consumer products for this purpose. This is one of Joy Ventures’ main goals, which it works to achieve through thought leadership, community events and other programs to increase the understanding regarding the potential of this growing industry.
“Who would have thought a few years ago that a mindfulness app would be a $250M company? But Headspace is. We are here to encourage and support the new generation of entrepreneurs that in 2-3 years will be recognized as having developed pioneering and disruptive products and companies in neurowellness,” says Polachek.
The wellness market, in its various formats is growing dramatically. According to a recent JVP market research report, the wearables market will reach $19B globally by 2019, and the market for products which detect and regulate emotion and mood will reach $36B globally by 2021. There are already companies succeeding in this market – including Muse, which sells a brain sensing headband to support meditation, and Spire, which markets the Spire Health Tag, to monitor consumers’ sleep, stress, and activity.
“We believe that the neurowellness market is set to explode in the coming years, similarly to how the cybersecurity or social media industries developed, led by growing demand in places like the U.S. and China,” concluded Polachek. “At Joy Ventures, we’re establishing an innovation hub that will be one of the forerunners in this global movement: creating a community, supporting entrepreneurs and innovators, and bringing great products to consumers. It’s going to be an exciting journey!”