Belfast-based scientist developing AI gut health monitoring tool

  • A Belfast-based scientist is developing an innovative AI-powered gut health monitoring tool that will be quick, non-invasive and low cost.

    Shubham Baviskar began developing the Aapta Gut Genius after moving to Northern Ireland in 2016 from India and noticing a deterioration in his health and well-being with the change in diet.

    “I came here as a student and was eating a lot of unhealthy, highly processed, low bioavailable food and my body responded to that. I believed it was also impacting my mental health and felt there was a connection to how I was feeling and what I was eating. I wanted to discover the impact on my gut microbiome of my diet and so I started to look into ways to find out,” explained Shubham, who also works as a Postgraduate Research Fellow in Queen’s University, where he works on novel ocular drug delivery systems to treat eye diseases.

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    He is now developing the platform to integrate easy at-home tests on skin, urine and saliva to measure gut microbiome. Dr Charles Gillan, a senior lecturer at Queen’s in the school of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is assisting Shubham with the development of the AI model.

    Using this diagnostic tool and AI-analysis, the platform will be able to recommend a personalised plant-based nutritional plan to improve good microbiome activity as well as lifestyle planning to improve overall health and wellbeing. He is also working on a range of plant-based food and drinks.

    The project is being supported by Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road in Belfast, with mentoring advice from Stephen Ellis, the centre’s Innovation Manager.

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    “This platform has huge potential as a non-invasive early predictive tool for gut health monitoring by using AI-generated recommendations along with highly technical software being developed by Shubham and his team. It has attracted support from a number of key programmes and has been shortlisted for QUB’s Dragon’s Den,” Stephen said.

    Innovation Factory provided mentoring support and introductions to key collaborators, helping the startup to secure a £5,000 innovation voucher in November 2023 as well as SU Enterprise Make It Happen funding at Queen's University Belfast for research and development. Shubham is also enrolled on Catalyst’s Co-Founders programme.

    “As an Innovation Factory member, I have received tremendous support from Stephen and the team at IF. They have been so generous with their time and introductions to agencies and relevant individuals to help me speed up development of this product,” Shubham said.

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    Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on its behalf by Oxford Innovation Space. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

    Shubham is currently working to protect the IP as he continues to develop the gut health prediction tool.

    “We believe a happy gut makes a happier person. There has been huge growth in awareness of gut health and sales of probiotics. But there are easy, natural ways to change how you eat that are also effective, low cost and easy to access. This tool aims to measure gut health to empower people to strive to improve their health,” Shubham said.

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