QI Chats with Patrik Schmidle of CARI Therapeutics

This article is the first in a periodic series featuring members of the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space (QIIS), a workspace on the third floor of QI's headquarters in UC San Diego's Atkinson Hall. The purpose of QIIS is to enable incubation and accelerate collaborative technology creation and transfer. Both startups and government agencies and labs can lease space at QIIS, engage with UC San Diego faculty and students and use the many prototyping and design facilities at QI.

San Diego, Calif., Feb. 10, 2017 — CARI Therapeutics is one of the many members of the QI Innovation Space (QIIS), where a team led by CEO and co-founder Patrik Schmidle collaborates closely with experts in addiction research, biosensor engineering and entrepreneurship. CARI Therapeutics' signature On the Go recovery program integrates cutting-edge smartphone technology with proven behavior-change techniques to address stress management and substance use. The program includes short, quick and powerful mobile app exercises dispersed throughout the day, designed to produce significant behaviors, and combines advanced mobile technology with evidence-based techniques for the most convenient and effective recovery available. 

Patrik Schmidle in the QI Innovation Space

CARI recently received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to perform R&D on a technology platform consisting of a biosensor connected to a mobile app with the goal of transforming the way substance misuse will be detected, monitored and treated.  In addition, the company was just selected to participate in an NIH (National Institute of Health) I-Corps program, which involves a significant commitment.

We spoke with Patrik Schmidle about the mission of CARI Therapeutics, his innovation philosophy, and what he would do with $100,000, no strings attached.

What is the chief aim of CARI Therapeutics?    
We are passionate about positively impacting the lives of people that suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.
What are you working on currently? 
We are building a digital health solution that will transform the detection, monitoring and treatment of drug and alcohol misuse.
What drew you to the QI Innovation Space?  
First and foremost, the opportunity to collaborate with experts in digital health, engineering, mobile application development, grant writing, and prototyping. Second, specifically related to the topic we are passionate about, UC San Diego employs some of the world’s foremost experts on addiction research and treatment and becoming part of QI allowed us to more easily connect with them. Third, being accepted into the QIIS gave us much needed credibility.  Start-up companies face long odds and incubating in an environment like this improves those odds.

What is your personal "innovation philosophy?"  
Not sure I can claim it as my own personal philosophy, but the phrase “No guts, no glory” embodies how I think about innovation.  You never know if something is going to work unless you try it. You have to have the courage and persistence to try solving a problem that either no one has been crazy enough to attempt solving yet or others tried to solve the problem and failed.  Successful innovators seem to have a different perspective when one of their innovations doesn’t work.  Rather than thinking “Oh no, I failed” they think “What should I change next time to achieve a different outcome”.
If you were given a $100,000 no-strings-attached grant, what would you do with it?
Very good and timely question.  I would use it to prove that our software improves patient engagement and treatment outcomes.  It would require more than $100,000 to prove it on a large scale, but it would definitely be enough to conduct a small study.