A profile of Akili, which makes a US FDA-cleared game designed to treat ADHD in children; Akili raised $160M+ after going public via a SPAC deal in August 2022. (Rebecca Heilweil / Vox)

In today’s episode, we’re talking with the creator of a US FDA-cleared game called Akili, which aims to revolutionize ADHD treatment by helping patients feel more comfortable playing video games. The company is already one of the biggest names in the gaming industry, but it’s not resting on its laurels. We’ll learn why they’re taking their gaming technology into education and why they think that’s the next big growth area. Akili’s technology platform is a powerful tool for treating attention deficit disorder. The game provides patients with a safe, fun experience designed to treat mild to moderate ADHD symptoms effectively. One study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found the game more effective than the prescription drug Ritalin in improving children’s ability to focus and pay attention.

What is Akili?  

Akili’s platform is a digital game called “Play to Learn,” designed to help children with ADHD focus better and improve their attention and focus. Akili Interactive Lab was founded in 2011 in San Francisco and focused on developing and commercializing mobile games for children and adolescents. Akili’s primary focus is to create digital games that help parents and educators treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. With a team of approximately 100 employees, Akili is currently located at its San Mateo, CA headquarters. He built it into a platform that allows users to choose among hundreds of games to help treat their ADHD.  

How does Akili make a US FDA-cleared game designed to treat ADHD in children?  

By applying the core principles of design thinking, the company began by conducting market research. They found that, at the time, there were about 3.6 million children with ADHD in the U.S. Nearly half of those had been prescribed stimulant medication, but only about two-thirds had positive experiences with the treatment. The company learned that these kids struggled to focus because they were often inattentive while playing video games. Akili’s founders hypothesized that playing video games with ADHD-specific content could help reduce symptoms by teaching kids skills that would translate to real life. They also knew that parents felt video games helped their children focus better.

Why did Akili raise $160M+ after going public via a SPAC deal in August 2022?  

After a recent IPO, the firm raised $160 million in its initial public offering, valued at $1.4 billion. Akili’s IPO price was $11.25 per share, priced around 20% above its last private valuation of $8.70. This is due to the market’s shift to an increased focus on mobile advertising. Akili has a strong mobile advertising business and has also created a mobile video platform to help enterprises better understand their mobile audiences. Mobile advertising is expected to rise over the next several years, and Akili’s valuation reflects that growth trend.


In conclusion, Akili has developed a non-stimulant drug designed to treat ADHD. It targets the dopamine receptors, which are the basis for treating ADHD and other disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is an extremely promising opportunity for Akili because no other medication on the market today treats ADHD. Akili is in Phase 3 trials and will file for FDA approval in 2023. The company recently closed a $160M+ round of financing and plans to use the capital to fund development activities related to its drug candidates and to grow its team.


1. What is the background of Akili? 

Akili was founded in 2010 by CEO and co-founder Dr. Shafik Dagher. He has been working in medical devices for over 30 years. He has served as the Center for Medical Device Innovation Director at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

2. What is the mission of Akili? 

Akili’s mission is to improve the quality of life for millions of children and adults who have ADHD and other neurological disorders through the use of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS).

3. What does Akili do? 

Akili’s products are designed for use at home, allowing users to participate in a daily, scientifically proven, self-administered treatment.

4. What are the two most common types of ADHD? 

The most common type of ADHD is inattention ADHD, which is characterized by having difficulty paying attention to tasks, trouble organizing, and being easily distracted. The second most common type of ADHD is hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, characterized by restlessness, impulsivity, and acting before thinking.

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