Press Portal

HU-Alumnus visits Entrepreneurship Summit in California

Manouchehr Shamsrizi graduated at the Humboldt University zu Berlin (HU). Now he was invited to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES) to the Silicon Valley.
Manouchehr Shamsrizi

Manouchehr Shamsrizi
Figure: Enri C. Strobel/privat

There, alongside 100 handpicked European businesses and investors, this start-up founder will take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES), which runs from the 22nd to the 24th July 2016. The summit grew from an initiative started by President Barack Obama.

Three things link the political, economic and cultural scientist to the Humboldt University zu Berlin (HU). Shamsrizi was a student here from 2012 until 2014, where he studied for his Masters in Public Policy. He is a co-founder and now external member of the “gamelab” at the HU Cluster of Excellence “Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory”. During his studies, he was awarded the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship by the Schering Foundation, and so took part in the interdisciplinary subject-focused course “Aging & Age”, where students from various fields of study researched collaboratively. Here, Shamsrizi came into close contact with topics such as generational equity and the nursing crisis. “On the one hand, we have an aging society and a lack of resources in the nursing sector; on the other hand, technical advancements mean that we now have many ways to improve the health and quality of life of senior citizens, thereby lightening the burden on caregivers,” the Hamburg-born researcher says.

Together with six friends – students and graduates of various fields from all across Germany – Shamsrizi founded the start-up company “RetroBrain R&D”. The US Department of State’s invitation to attend the GES 2016 recognises him and his start-up for their innovative use of video games in the health care sector.

What do RetroBrain R&D’s products look like? One is called “MemoreBox”, and is a collection of video games for the elderly. The games – riding a motorbike, bowling, and table tennis, to name a few – are currently being tested in a number of retirement homes and nursing homes across Hamburg. “Unlike conventional video games, these games are tailored to a specific target group, from the design to the way they are played. They are gesture-operated, and therefore very accessible,” the founder explains. For example, the motorbike game requires the player to steer a motorbike by shifting their body weight from one leg to the other as they try to collect canisters of petrol and avoid hitting cars. But what they may not realise is that these movements improve their steadiness when standing and walking, and help to prevent falling injuries. “The games implement various therapeutic-preventative-rehabilitative elements, which are in part based on our understanding of geriatrics, neuropsychology, physiotherapy, and music therapy,” Shamsrizi explains.

Video: RetroBrain R&D

The games are also hoped to have a therapeutic and preventative effect on dementia. The young entrepreneurs are collaborating with health insurance company BarmerGEK on a model project investigating the collection of games’ positive health effects and preventative aspects. Ideas for pain management, Parkinson’s, and forms of data analysis are also works in progress. But one thing is already clear: these games encourage social interaction and put a smile on the player’s face.

The entrepreneurs were supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s Exist-Programme, the Humboldt-Innovation GmbH, HU Professor for New Mediums of Rehabilitation Michael Wahl, and the Hamburg programme InnoRampUp. Amongst other prizes, RetroBrain R&D was also awarded the Rudi-Assauer-Award for Innovation in the Fight against Dementia, and is working with BarmerGEK as the first start-up to implement a pilot project in line with Germany’s new Prevention Act. Shamsrizi was also a Global Justice Fellow of Yale University, earned a place in the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Shamsrizi will encounter many new ideas at the summit, where he is also one of the fifty participants selected to lead the conference’s master classes. There, the 28-year-old will meet leading scientists and investors, and take part in exclusive training sessions. “The larger and more diverse our pool of ideas and our networking circle is, the better our solutions can be. Taking part in GES will expose me to many new possibilities, which is something I’m greatly looking forward to.”

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 is a place for leading companies and investors to undergo further training, to network, and to exchange ideas. Its aim is to exhibit and develop new methods and ideas for overcoming the world’s biggest global challenges.

Additional Information

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016