Irish start-up secures €300k to develop online programme for eating disorders

4 Jun 2013

Pictured, from left: Joey Mason, Delta Partners; Emma Murphy, founder, The Turning Institute; and Donal Duffy, Bank of Ireland

Online mental health platform The Turning Institute has secured €300,000 to develop a 12-week programme for people with bulimia and binge-eating disorders.

The Turning Institute, which was founded by the psychotherapist Emma Murphy, obtained the funding via the Bank of Ireland Start-up and Emerging Sectors Fund and Enterprise Ireland in a deal managed by Delta Partners.   

Murphy, who specialises in eating disorders, is also the founder of Sandyford Wellness Clinic.

She will use the funding to launch a 12-week, video-based programme for people with bulimia and binge-eating disorders. Murphy has devised the programme, which will feature on the new website

She came up with the idea for the online programme through her work with those with eating disorders.

About two years ago, Murphy had two clients who started at the same time: a 40-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man. Both of her clients had been struggling with bulimia for more than 20 years.

“This prompted me to design a programme that could be accessed safely and confidentially online so sufferers could access help sooner rather than later,” she said. The Turning Institute also received funding from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland last year.

As for the new online programme, it will be delivered via a custom-built platform that incorporates a clinical measure to determine its effectiveness in improving quality of life for users.

The platform is also the subject of a clinical trial that is being run in collaboration with the School of Communications at Dublin City University.

The Turning Institute is also developing links with US eating disorder support organisations such as the Binge Eating Disorder Association.

“There are over 30m American adults struggling with an eating disorder, so the potential market for this type of product is significant” said Alan O’Neill, co-founder, The Turning Institute. “We’ve exhibited at a couple of conferences in the US and there is phenomenal interest in what we are doing over there.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic