Cork student claims top prize at Entrepreneur Awards

Mark O’Sullivan was one of ten finalists who participated in the virtual final of the third level Student Entrepreneur Awards and received the €10,000 cash prize fund.

Neurobell, a medical device that detects and monitors brain injuries in newborn babies has claimed first prize at Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards 2020.

Developed by University College Cork (UCC) student Mark O’Sullivan, the device aims to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity faster and with greater accuracy.

Mark was one of ten finalists who participated in the virtual final of the third level Student Entrepreneur Awards and received the €10,000 cash prize fund, as well as the opportunity to avail of specialist advice and assistance from Enterprise Ireland to help turn his innovative enterprise idea into a business reality.

Siobhán Ryan, a student from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), picked up the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award and received €5,000 for her peri-operative pressure detection system designed for use on a theatre table.

RCSI’s Siobhán Ryan picked up the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award and received €5,000

Simon Dring from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) took home the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award for his device which aims to improve concussion awareness and player safety at all levels. His product the TraumAlert which allows for rapid detection of potential concussions, received €5,000 in cash prize funding.

The final Local Enterprise Office ICT award went to Limerick brothers, Nick and Jack Cotter, for their Cotter Agritech innovation. Their product the Cotter Crate is a patent-pending, lamb handling system that makes dosing and weighing lambs easier, faster, and prevents back injury.

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.

“The high calibre of applications in today’s virtual final highlights the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit within Ireland’s universities and colleges across the country. I would like to congratulate the overall award winner Mark O’Sullivan of Neurobell and I look forward to seeing the progression of his medical device technology.”

Neurobell and three other finalists who received awards shared a €35,000 cash prize fund and €30,000 in mentoring support from Enterprise Ireland.

This is the 39th year of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards, which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices.

For the full list of the ten finalists, see below:

Project Bellerophon – Sean Fradl, DCU

Project Bellerophon is the first application developed by ( It aims to simplify the generation of equine nutrition reports. Nutrition reports are used by horse feed manufacturers, stud farm managers and performance horse trainers to manage a horse’s ration intake, body condition, and to identify deficiencies or excesses of nutrients in the horse’s diet. Failure to meet the nutritional needs of horses can lead to lameness, poor thrift, suboptimal performance and fertility issues.

bitherit – Harry Dunne, IT Carlow

bitherit addresses the problems present in digital inheritance by providing a decentralised solution to the storage and transfer of digital assets. The solution provided has been designed to give users full autonomy of their data while protecting it against both digital and physical attacks. Using bitherit, an individual can create a highly secure digital inheritance solution within minutes.

Enabl-Aid – Multiple founders from CIT

Enabl-Aid is a mobility device which will aid people with reduced mobility to manoeuvre around their gardens and easily access their flowerbeds. It significantly reduces the physical effort and upper body strength required to get down and back up from ground level. However, Enabl-Aid is more than just a tool, it is a comfort. It has a fantastic positive effect on the user’s quality of life and comfort when performing tasks at ground level.

Enso – Vinh Truong, TUDublin

There’s a growing call for an evaluation of Ireland’s current education system. Enso is a toolkit that combines 3D printing education with guided play lessons, providing fully 3D printed collaborative tools that will operate alongside materials that are available within a classroom. It aims to allow children to create experiences by engaging in three design thinking tasks with their peers, enhancing their 21st-century skills and ready them for the changing nature of the workplace and the future.

Neurobell – Mark O’Sullivan, UCC

The Neurobell project aims to develop a diagnostic medical device for the early detection and monitoring of brain injuries in newborn infants. Newborn brain injury results in the death or disability of over one million infants globally every year. It is very difficult to diagnose, requiring complex EEG monitoring equipment and expertise, which is not readily available.

Nibblez – Hannah McEvoy, St. Angela’s College, Sligo

Nibblez is a range of plant powered party food which consists of finger food products that have a high nutritional value and are suitable for vegans, plant-based eaters and those pursuing a healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle. The two-current market, delicious and nutritious offerings include: scrumptious spring rolls with oriental sweet chilli sauce and crispy cauliflower wings with smoky barbecue sauce.

PressiDect – Siobhán Ryan, RCSI

PressiDect is a peri-operative pressure detection system utilised on the surface of an operating theatre table. It contains tactile pressure sensors that has the ability to actively map a patient’s position during their surgical procedure; measuring pressure changes in real time. This is a unique feature in a theatre setting as it informs the user where anatomically each individual patient would be most ‘at risk’ to pressure injury, as a result of prolonged immobilisation.

Signal Optimiser by TORANN – Lewis Loane, Queen’s University Belfast

Signal Optimiser, by TORANN, is the unique and award-winning solution to the historic problem of loss of sound quality encountered by millions of musicians playing amplified instruments across the globe. Since the 1950’s to present date, music equipment manufacturers recognise equipment’s performance results in up to 50 per cent loss of sound quality when playing amplified instruments. The technology has not moved forward. Signal Optimiser is a fully compatible, plug and play device, positioned between any instrument and amplifier which continuously provides 100 per cent sound quality. Signal Optimiser is designed, developed and manufactured in Ireland.

Cotter Agritech – Jack/Nick Cotter, LIT/UCC

Cotter Agritech develop and commercialise smart, innovative, and accessible solutions for the Sheep Farming Sector, including the multi-award-winning Cotter Crate. This patent-pending solution makes lamb handling easy, 50 per cent faster vs. conventional methods, and takes the backache out of lamb handling. The brothers say this is significant as 46 per cent of Irish sheep farmers experience lower back pain.

TraumAlert – Simon Dring, CIT

TraumAlert has created a SmartGuard device which will aid the identification and diagnosis of concussion in real time. A sensor system placed in a mouthguard measures the acceleration of the head during a match and identifies if the acceleration exceeds a defined, dangerous threshold which could result in concussion.

Main image: UCC

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 12 June, 2020