Áine Behan and Cortechs celebrate success at Lady Pitch night

24 Sep 2014

CEO of Cortechs and neuroscientist Áine Behan celebrated last night as the only Irish female finalist of last night’s Lady Pitch night in Paris out of 178 applicants from across Europe.

The event is celebrated as one of the best of its kind in trying to continue encouraging more women to move into technology and puts their fledgling companies in the spotlight by seeing them pitch their companies to some of the world’s most influential figures who made up the judging panel.

With participants coming from 22 different nations, competition was incredibly fierce but speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Áine says that while the grand prize went to the Danish start-up EasySize, the judging panel said that Cortechs and its range of digital tools to help improve mental functions such as attention, focus and concentration, came in at a close second.

However, they certainly got the public’s attention online where Lady Pitch night’s 4,000-plus Twitter followers voted Cortechs as their favourite pitch of the night which is a fantastic achievement in itself.

This may come as no surprise as the potential for Áine’s and Cortech’s digital tools could have considerable beneficial effects to people who may suffer from neurological issues that manifest in a person, particularly with regard to their capacity to keep attention on one task.

Bridging the gap between academia and business

With a desire to develop products that could improve a person’s life, Áine explains that Cortech “combine neuroscience, sensors and next-generation technologies to improve the quality of life regarding focus, attention and relaxation”, beginning with children with attention difficulty behaviours.

The digital tools that they are creating come in the form of games for children that could be accessed through a tablet which, along with sensors worn on the child’s head, could read their brain activity and engage with them to aid in their growth.

Cortech’s analytical software as it would appear on a tablet.

“From the read-out of their brainwaves we can tell how relaxed they are, but we built-in visual cues within the game to reward them the more focused they get,” Áine says.

Áine herself has spent years in the field of academia as a neuroscientist, but now wants to bridge the sometimes difficult gap between academic research and commercialising it.

In Cortech’s case, they want to bring some of the developments that have been made in academia with regard to increasing productivity and focus, and bringing this to the public through a commercial company.

Expanding globally

The future is certainly bright for the company of four and additional part-time staff who were accepted on to the Bank of Ireland accelerator programme in Cork and now have their eyes set not just on expanding into the Irish market, but globally as well.

“Our whole thing is getting this scalable and getting it global because it will never be limited to the Irish market. It’s not saying it’s not relevant there but what we’re offering is international and I Want to bring it to the Americas and Europe and make the software to have a solution to make brain training technology available not just for children, but for everybody.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindlysupported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo andScience Foundation Ireland.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic