10 student start-ups receive funding for summer of innovation

17 Jun 2021

From left: LaunchBox 2021 finalists Ellen Ryall (ReFunk), Timothy Orimolusi (QRx) and Heather Bruton (UniPeer). Image: Trinity College Dublin

Students from nine different disciplines at Trinity received investment for ideas ranging from carbon-negative plastics to jukebox-inspired coasters.

Tangent, Trinity College Dubin’s Ideas Workshop, yesterday (16 June) announced its 10 student teams for LaunchBox 2021.

LaunchBox is a student accelerator programme where new entrepreneurs are provided with funding, expert mentorship and collaborative exercises in order to develop their business start-ups.

Each of the teams received €10,000 in funding courtesy of Bank of Ireland and will be expected to present their burgeoning businesses at a showcase at the end of August.

Since its founding in 2013, LaunchBox participants have included portable wellness app KeepAppy (2019), food redistribution service Foodcloud (2013), and AI and neural net content creator for artists, Artomatix (2013), an which sold for a reported $60m in 2019.

To kick off this year’s programme, Ken Finnegan, CEO of Tangent, said: “As our flagship entrepreneurship initiative, LaunchBox offers the next generation of founders unrivalled access to a wealth of industry leaders, best-in-class education and superb networking opportunities.

“I also firmly believe that any student, from any school or faculty, can become an entrepreneur and this programme certainly demonstrates that, with two Trinity School of Pharmacy students, Bidemi Afolabi and Lauren O’Reilly, winning last year’s competition with their company ProMotion.”

Below are this year’s exciting start-ups and what they are in the process of developing.

Diglot

Dubbed the “new language learning superpower”, Diglot aims to bypass the tedium of other language learning apps by periodically integrating non-English words into classic English novels.

Advertising products for French, German, Italian, Irish, Spanish and Portuguese, Diglot is reimagining classics such as The Great Gatsby as a powerful learning tool. By using our ability to understand words in context, the company is seamlessly combining learning with leisure.

The team previously won €5,000 at the Student Entrepreneurship Awards.

Field of Vision

Field of Vision is the haptic and auditory feedback device that replicates the “amount of swerve on a free kick, to the strength of a tackle”. Designed for football fans with visual impairments, the device uses computer vision to follow the location of the ball and translates the action to a moving-finger-piece on a device, creating a sense of motion for the user.

With built-in Wi-Fi and 5G technology, as well as a portable battery-powered design, Field of Vision’s device can always go where the action is. While the technology is currently limited to football, other sport devices are planned by the student start-up.

Field of Vision was another winner at the Student Entrepreneurship Awards, taking home the top prize of €10,000 as well as mentorship from Enterprise Ireland.

Fonz Music

Sold as a “modern-day jukebox” Fonz Music uses the Fonz Coaster to enable collaborative music selection.

After a host has connected their Spotify to the Fonz Coaster, guests can tap the coaster to join the session and select a song. By tapping again, users can queue their songs and make the party their own. Waterproof and with no additional power needs, the device is designed to make group music selection seamless and easy.

One Sure Thing

With the philosophy of “live for today and prepare for tomorrow”, the One Sure Thing digital planning assistant is designed to take the strain out of end-of-life planning.

The service provides peace-of-mind and clarity for its user and their loved ones in the event of an unexpected loss. Customers can store wishes, passwords, banking details and vital documents related to health and legal matters in one secure online safe.

Park Turtle

Park Turtle enables yacht clubs to manage their boat parking, storage and seasonal fees all in one smart software package. Already associated with the Royal St George and the Howth Yacht Club, the app is designed to optimise parking and maximise revenue.

Designed by two active sailors and boat users, the founders’ idea stemmed from first-hand experience of recurring problems across many sailing clubs. The app is their solution to visualise what was actually happening in the boatyard through a dashboard and QR codes.

Plalgae

Plalgae is a seaweed alternative to single use plastics. Unlike other bioplastics, Plalgae is carbon negative, doesn’t require industrial composting and results in zero waste.

With the increasing awareness of the need for plastic alternatives, Plalgae makes money by selling the raw material and innovative biodegradable plastic products.

QRx

QRx is an end-to-end healthcare software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution with a focus on optimising prescription management for healthcare providers whilst improving patient compliance.

Intended to relieve burden on patients, doctors and pharmacists, QRx leverages the newest in blockchain technology to provide a scalable, flexible and decentralised application. In doing so, they hope to overcome traditional problems with prescription management.

ReFunk

Seeking to address the 10m tonnes of furniture discarded annually in the EU, ReFunk is a three-stage furniture upcycling process platform.

Through this service, a donator lists an unwanted item on the app. An upcycler collects the item, transforms it as they see fit, and lists it on the app to be sold to a buyer. Once sold, a percentage of the profit is given to the original donator to reward their contribution to sustainability.

This team took home the 2020 Provost Innovation Award at Trinity in November 2020.

UniPeer

UniPeer is a platform for university students experiencing loneliness – a problem receiving increasing awareness after a year of social isolation and online learning.

The platform is designed as a support group for university students, facilitating peer-to-peer support by connecting students through shared experiences and interests. While the founders acknowledge that Covid-19 has exasperated the problems they address, they plan to continue addressing student loneliness beyond the pandemic.

X-Lite Beverages

X-Lite is a revenue-generating premium hard seltzer alcohol product. The product is a low-calorie, zero-sugar, alcoholic drink with natural flavours and colouring.

Quoting the strong surge of health-conscious consumers and ‘premiumisation’ of the alcohol industry as their driving force, the company say hard seltzers have become increasingly popular and will continue to trend upwards. Advertising their sour watermelon flavour on Instagram, X-Lite is reimagining the summer beverage for a new generation.

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Sam Cox is a journalist at Silicon Republic covering sci-tech news

editorial@siliconrepublic.com