UCC’s Mark O’Sullivan is the student entrepreneur of the year

By: June 12, 2020
Mark O'Sullivan Neurobell

A medical device for the early detection of brain injuries in newborns has won the first prize at Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards 2020.

Neurobell, developed by University College Cork (UCC) student, Mark O’Sullivan (above), intends to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity faster and with greater accuracy.

Ten finalists (see below) competed in the virtual final of the third level student entrepreneur awards. Mark O’Sullivan won the €10,000 top prize, as well as the chance to get specialist advice from Enterprise Ireland and turn his idea into a business reality.

The higher merit award winners
The Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award went to Siobhán Ryan, a student from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), for her project PressiDect. Ryan won a prize of €5,000 for her peri-operative pressure detection system designed for use on a theatre table.

Simon Dring from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) took home the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award for his device which aims to improve concussion awareness and player safety at all levels. His product the TraumAlert allows for rapid detection of potential concussions and he lands €5,000 in prize funding.

The final Local Enterprise Office ICT award went to Limerick brothers, Nick and Jack Cotter, for their Cotter Agritech invention. The Cotter Crate is a patent-pending, lamb handling system that makes dosing and weighing lambs easier, faster, and prevents back injury in farmers.

The Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards finalist profiles

App – Project Bellerophon: Sean Fradl, DCU
Project Bellerophon is the first application developed by Equine.app (https://equine.app). It aims to simplify the generation of equine nutrition reports. Nutrition reports are used by horse feed manufacturers, stud farm managers and performance horse trainers to manage a horse’s ration intake, body condition, and to identify deficiencies or excesses of nutrients in the horse’s diet. Failure to meet the nutritional needs of horses can lead to lameness, poor thrift, suboptimal performance and fertility issues.

bitherit: Harry Dunne – IT Carlow
Digital Inheritance refers to the transfer of assets which exist on electronic systems. These assets, making up the owner’s digital estate, can include passwords, usernames, online accounts, contracts, and more.
Using bitherit, an individual can create a highly secure digital inheritance solution within minutes.

Enabl-Aid: Eoghan O’Sullivan, James O’Riordan, Rhiannon Madigan, Jack McDonnell, Ryan Thomas, Michael Cronin, Padraig Dillane, Fionan Leahy, Kieran Velon – CIT
The Enabl-Aid is a mobility device which will aid people with reduced mobility to move around their gardens and easily access their flowerbeds. It significantly reduces the physical effort and upper body strength required to get down to, and back up from, ground level. However the Enabl-aid is more than just a tool, it is a comfort. This project was inspired by a team member’s grandmother who suffered from Parkinson’s but was an avid gardener.

Enso: The Guided Play Toolkit – Vinh Truong – TUDublin
There’s a growing call for an evaluation of Ireland’s current education system. Beneficial methods of learning in the developmental stages of a child have been stunted due to the current teaching methods and curriculum regime. Enso is a toolkit that combines 3D printing education with guided play lessons, providing fully 3D printed collaborative tools that will operate alongside materials that are available within a classroom. Enso aims to allow children to create experiences by engaging in three design thinking tasks with their peers, enhancing their 21st-century skills and ready them for the changing nature of the workplace and the future.

Neurobell: Mark O’Sullivan – UCC
The Neurobell project aims to develop a diagnostic medical device for the early detection and monitoring of brain injuries in newborn infants.
Newborn brain injury results in the death or disability of over one million infants globally every year. It is very difficult to diagnose, requiring complex EEG monitoring equipment and expertise, which is not readily available.
Neurobell evolved from Mark O’Sullivan’s PhD research with the INFANT Research Centre and Embedded Systems Research Group in University College Cork (UCC). Throughout his PhD, Mark has been engaged in the entrepreneurship eco-system in UCC, and is currently a member of the IGNITE Business Incubation Programme.

Nibblez: Hannah McEvoy – St. Angela’s College, Sligo
Nibblez is a range of plant-powered party food which consists of finger food products that have a high nutritional value and are suitable for vegans, plant-based eaters and those pursuing a healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

PressiDect: Siobhán Ryan – RCSI
PressiDect is a peri-operative pressure detection system used on the surface of an operating theatre table. It contains tactile pressure sensors to actively map a patient’s position during their surgical procedure; measuring pressure changes in real-time.

Signal Optimiser by TORANN: Lewis Loane – QUB
Signal Optimiser, by TORANN, is a solution to the historic problem of loss of sound quality encountered by millions of musicians playing amplified instruments across the globe. Launching globally in 2021, Signal Optimiser’s has the global potential to be a tool for 70 million musicians.

Cotter Agritech: Jack/Nick Cotter – LIT/UCC
Cotter Agritech was set up by Jack and Nick Cotter. The brothers have been entrepreneurs for nearly 10 years, starting Cotter Bros Firewood in 2011 and Cotter Organic Lamb in 2019, which won an Irish Quality Food Award in 2019.
The Cotter Crate is a patent-pending solution makes lamb handling easy, 50% faster versus conventional methods, and takes the backache out of lamb handling. The brothers say this is significant as 46% of Irish sheep farmers experience lower back pain.

TraumAlert: Simon Dring – CIT
TraumAlert has created a SmartGuard device which will aid the identification and diagnosis of concussion in real-time. A sensor system placed in a mouthguard measures the acceleration of the head during a match and identifies if the acceleration exceeds a defined, dangerous threshold which could result in a concussion.
The TraumAlert SmartGuard provides invaluable information as it reduces the pressure on any underqualified coaching staff when making a critical decision about player health.

Main picture from UCC.