Signal Optimiser wins €15,000 in The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2020

Signal Optimiser emerged the overall victor at The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, securing €15,000 of the €27,000 in prizes.

• With 9 businesses competing in the final, Signal Optimiser took top prize, with OpinionX and Safety Freelancer securing €9,000 between them as runners up

• KeepAppy took the final prize sponsored by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services for its work on a mental-health focused business plan

• This was the first time the programme was delivered remotely, amid COVID-19 restrictions

Signal Optimiser emerged the overall victor at The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, securing €15,000 of the €27,000 in prizes.

Signal Optimiser is a plug-and-play device, connecting seamlessly with any musical instrument to continuously deliver 100% of the sound. Described by the world’s official #1 music retailer as “a game changer”, their innovative solution incorporates new technology to eliminate signal loss and transform the quality of music.

OpinionX and Safety Freelancer finished as runners-up, with the hybrid survey platform for engaging large groups online to gather feedback and the world’s first outsourcing platform exclusively for health and safety professionals taking €7,000 and €2,000 respectively.

The Mental Health Innovation Award, at €3,000, sponsored by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS), went to KeepAppy, which is a for-profit social enterprise and wellness app on a mission to make mental health tools accessible for all. Currently active in over 100 countries, KeepAppy is empowering consumers and employees to take control of their mental health and wellbeing daily.

Due to government restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first pre-acceleration programme to be delivered entirely remotely by The Ireland Funds and NDRC. The competition offered 8 weeks of guided support and mentorship to 11 shortlisted teams to develop a pathway towards building a viable technology venture.

Last year, Lily Devices, led by NUI Galway student Aaron Hannon, won the top prize for their product that aims to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy using a unique headband device which offers patients a comfortable, dignified and portable treatment device for the prevention of hair loss during chemotherapy.

Bill McKiernan, Founder of The Ireland Funds Plan Competition, said: “The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition in partnership with NDRC proves that entrepreneurship is flourishing on the island of Ireland. The business plans presented today illustrate that young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland are solving complex societal and business problems with innovation, creativity, and perseverance. It is very gratifying to see the energy and intellectual horsepower these young people are dedicating to solving problems.”

Orla Gogarty, Director of Digital Health at SPMHS, said: “SPMHS is delighted once again to partner with The Ireland Fund and NDRC on The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition. This competition is particularly important at this challenging time when entrepreneurs and start-ups need our support perhaps more than ever. We are witnessing a quiet revolution in how the innovative use of technology can play a critical role in helping us all stay connected with our work, health services and social support networks, even when we cannot be together in person. The BPC similarly focuses on how the creative, collaborative development and use of technology can do good for society. We have been greatly impressed with the quality of the teams and are delighted that the Mental Health Innovation Award has gone to KeepAppy.”

Ben Hurley, CEO of NDRC, said: “It’s wonderful to see another cohort of entrepreneurs for The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition. This year’s programme was quite different to the previous years’, with an entirely remote delivery of the pre-acceleration model required amid the Government restrictions surrounding COVID-19. However, it is clear that the engagement and development of each business idea stood the test of time, and the journey each has been on has shown real rewards.”

“I’m excited to see where these entrepreneurs go from here, bringing these business ideas to the next stage and turning them into viable propositions. Witnessing projects coming in from Ireland’s top universities and research institutions shows we’re seeing ideas from the brightest and best. As ever, the partnership between The Ireland Funds, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and ourselves, and all the support that came with that, meant this programme was one to remember.”

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, now in its ninth year, seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among Irish-based early-stage technology entrepreneurs. Candidates will have the opportunity to develop their business ideas and compete for cash prizes, other supports and the chance to pitch for a place on one of NDRC’s investment programmes.

The 9 finalists were:

KeepAppy: With 10 psychologist approved wellness tools, KeepAppy is the for-profit social enterprise and wellness app on a mission to make mental health tools accessible for all. Currently active in over 100 countries, KeepAppy empowering consumers and employees to take control of their mental health and wellbeing on a daily basis.

Signal Optimiser: Signal Optimiser is a plug-and-play device, connecting seamlessly with any musical instrument to continuously deliver 100% of the sound. Described by the world’s official #1 music retailer as “a game changer”, their innovative solution incorporates new technology to eliminate signal loss and transform the quality of music.

Movetru: Incorrect technique during exercise and everyday activities leads to excess stress being placed on the body. This can lead to reduced performance, injury, and long-term health conditions. Movetru aims to eradicate preventable injury and reduce injury recovery time, globally. Specialist software will enhance players physically and mentally - changing the face of elite sports, forever.

MyClinic365: MyClinic365 is a patient engagement platform that reduces the administrative burden in healthcare by streamlining communication throughout the patient journey. Its intelligent virtual assistants automate routine repetitive tasks, allow secure communication between GP and patient, and provide triage at first point of contact transforming the patient experience.

Safety Freelancer: Safety Freelancer is the world’s first outsourcing platform exclusively for health and safety professionals and the first to offer freelancing, contracting and full-time employment opportunities. It provides a marketplace for businesses and experts to connect and collaborate on a global stage, reducing costs, increasing efficiency and making workplace safety more accessible.

OpinionX: OpinionX is a hybrid survey platform for engaging large groups online to gather feedback, crowdsource ideas and discover new insights about a population. Bringing together the richness of a focus group with the simplicity of an online survey, OpinionX turns a noisy crowd of opinions into a single understandable voice.

Preserve: The emergence of social media over the last two decades has brought significant benefits to society. However, social media use can be linked to increased risk of mental health problems among others. Preserve’s solution educates every school child (7-15) to use social media in a safe and healthy manner through a learning platform with vibrant gamification functionality.

Sensibin: Sensibin empowers recycling through technology. A chronic problem for corporate Sustainability Managers is the inability to efficiently measure the performance of their recycling programmes. Our disruptive solution ‘Igor’ is an AI-powered, portable self-audit waste characterisation tool. It provides fast and accurate performance measurements, enabling timely corrective action across waste management.

Amara Therapeutics: Amara Therapeutics is developing a digital therapeutic platform that empowers women to take control of their pelvic health using evidence-based medicine and behavioural interventions supported by technology. Their platform enables women to understand, treat and track their conditions giving them control of their clinical outcomes.

About The Ireland Funds

The Ireland Funds’ mission is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world. For further information visit: https://irelandfunds.org/