Brain injury detection device wins Student Entrepreneur Award

12 Jun 2020

Mark O'Sullivan, creator of Neurobell. Image: Enterprise Ireland

University College Cork student Mark O’Sullivan has won top prize at the Student Entrepreneur Awards 2020 for a device that helps detect brain injuries in newborns.

Mark O’Sullivan has won the top prize at Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards 2020 for his Neurobell medical device.

O’Sullivan developed Neurobell to support early detection and monitoring of brain injuries in newborns. With the device, he aims to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity faster and with greater accuracy.

The University College Cork student, who is doing his PhD with the Infant research centre, was one of 10 finalists participating in the virtual final of the third-level Student Entrepreneur Awards.

He will now receive a €10,000 cash prize fund and have the opportunity to avail of specialist advice and assistance from Enterprise Ireland to help turn his enterprise idea into a business reality.

The Student Entrepreneur Awards

This was the 39th annual Enterprise Ireland competition, which was sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices. Along with O’Sullivan, three other finalists will receive awards from a €35,000 cash prize fund and a share of €30,000 in mentoring support from Enterprise Ireland.

Siobhán Ryan, a student from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, won the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award for her project PressiDect. She received 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 took home the Grant Thronton High Achieving Merit Award for his device that aims to improve concussion awareness and player safety at all levels in sports. He received €5,000 in funding for the TraumAlert device, which allows for rapid detection of potential concussions.

Finally, the Local Enterprise Office ICT award went to Limerick brothers Nick and Jack Cotter (Limerick Institute of Technology and University College Cork) for their agritech innovation the Cotter Crate. The device, which won best agri-engineering start-up at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards last year, is a patent-pending lamb-handling system that aims to make dosing and weighing lambs easier and faster while preventing back injury.

‘An important springboard’

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “For the past four decades, student entrepreneurs in third-level institutions across the country have been identifying challenges and the solutions to overcome them.

“Competitions like the Student Entrepreneur Awards act as an important springboard for tomorrow’s business leaders and provide a platform for young people to showcase their highly innovative business ideas.”

Humphreys said that the “high calibre” of applications in the final “highlights the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit” within Irish universities and colleges.

Richard Murphy, manager of the Local Enterprise Office support, policy and co-ordination unit at Enterprise Ireland, added: “Nurturing this talent and helping to foster entrepreneurship is essential, not just to turn ideas into thriving businesses, but to help drive Ireland’s global reputation in business.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic