Irish founders of Lios win top European inventor award

4 Jul 2023

Eimear O'Carroll and Rhona Togher. Image: EPO

Another Irish finalist, 22-year-old Fionn Ferreira from West Cork, was awarded third place in the Young Inventors category at the awards ceremony in Valencia.

Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll, co-founders of Dublin-based Lios, have been announced today (4 July) as winners of the European Inventor Award 2023 in the SME category.

The annual award, presented by the European Patent Office, honours promising inventors for their contributions to scientific and technological progress as well as the impact their inventions have on our daily lives. This year’s award ceremony took place in Valencia, Spain.

Togher and O’Carroll have emerged victorious after being selected as finalists in May, from a pool of more than 600 applicants.

“This award recognises many years of hard work and commitment to making the world a quieter place,” the physicists said in a joint statement after winning the award. “It is a genuine privilege to be acknowledged alongside so many noteworthy inventors who have made such significant contributions to their fields.”

Another Irish entrant, Fionn Ferreira, was awarded third place in the Young Inventors category. The 22-year-old from West Cork is tackling microplastics pollution with his magnet-based method, which extracts microplastics from water “quickly, safely and without harm”.

“I think it’s great that you guys are recognising young inventors. Even though young people are only around 25pc of the global population, we are 100pc of the future,” Ferreira said upon being presented the award.

Novel, patented materials for hearing protection

An estimated 6.5m people in Europe are highly sleep disturbed because of long-term exposure to noise, according to the European Environment Agency. Overall, more than 100m people in Europe are exposed to harmful levels of noise pollution, according to the agency.

High levels of noise can also lead to hearing problems such as tinnitus – which Togher and O’Carroll have faced themselves.

Founded in 2009 as Restored Hearing, Lios has developed technology that can protect people from avoidable hearing damage by using novel, patented materials for hearing protection.

The former Start-Up of the Week has two core products: Sound Relief tinnitus sound therapy and Sound Bounce hearing protection.

In 2020, Lios partnered with the European Space Agency to develop the Sound Bounce material for use in space transportation technology. Togher and O’Carroll emerged first at the She Loves Tech 2022 awards last November, placing ahead of 5,000 applicants from around the world.

“Receiving this award serves as a reminder of the importance of innovation and the impact it can have on our society,” the two added upon their win. “We hope that this recognition will inspire others, especially young girls, to pursue their own inventions and to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic