NUI Galway LaunchPad recently hosted their Annual Explore Awards celebrating student innovation across the campus, with projects with significant potential to become business or social enterprises awarded €10,000 in start-up funding.
The annual ‘Explore Innovation Awards’ uncovered some of the most promising and innovative activity on campus. Winning ideas includedcreating medical solutions to help feed patients, preserving our rich history , gamifying navigating university campuses and improving the quality of lives of children with sensory processing disorders are among winning concepts.
The awards ceremony took place at NUI Galway’s inaugural Student Innovation Summit, a day-long event celebration all aspects of student enterprise and innovation on campus.
Campus awardees and projects:
The College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies awardee was Liam Alex Heffron. Liam Alex’s project ‘Anseo’, a phrase used by pupils to indicate their attendance at school, seeks to preserve the national school roll-books and registers. In 1922 due to a massive explosion at the Public Services Offices most records were lost. Using innovative techniques including crowdsourcing photography, ‘Anseo’ digitally created and saved all national school records in North Mayo and Sligo. To date over 484,000 images have been processed, making it the largest such voluntary project in Ireland.
The College of Business Public Policy and Law awardees were ‘The Quiet Beanie’ team of Alexander Selby, Eric Callanan, Aislinn Connaughton and Sarah O’Donnell. The project aims to improve the quality of lives of children with sensory processing disorders and their parents. ‘The Quiet Beanie’ is a modified beanie made from 90% organic cotton, and the organic cotton addresses the tactile sensory issues. A sound reducing foam is then incorporated into the design of the hat which helps to tackle sensory noise issues. The Quiet Beanie also provides a secure sense of pressure, a feature that children with sensory processing disorders require. As a social enterprise, the project believes in inclusion and acceptance and hope to promote these values throughout Ireland and afar.
The College of Engineering and Informatics awardee was Mark Harrington who developed a mobile and web app which utilizes gamification to pinpoint locations and services on campus. It offers a dynamic map of the NUI Galway campus that allows users to search out locations and navigate to them using any GPS enabled smartphone. The app’s second feature is the Campus Challenge, a system of quests and a leader board which uses gamification to encourage exploration by new students. The app is now fully developed and ready to implement as a permanent fixture on campus. Additionally, the app lends itself to adaptation suitable to other universities or organisations and has further potential on boarding applications.
The College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Explore Award winners were Eoghan Dunne and Nuno Silva, their novel device is a smart tube intubation solution. Nasogastric tubes are commonly used in hospitals to feed patients who have difficulty swallowing. However, serious medical problems can result if the tube is incorrectly placed. The current methods to determine the location of the tube after insertion include a pH test and a chest X-ray. However, both tests have limitations including detection/interpretation errors as well as resource and time demands. The team is building a solution to detect a nasogastric tube in a simple and an efficient way. The smart tube solution has the potential to allow the patient to be fed faster without the need to wait several hours for additional tests.
The College of Science awardees were the ‘RewardEd’ team of Albert Dolan, Robert Walsh and Sean Kilmartin, who aim to promote small businesses and empower students. The technology helps student reduce distractions by providing them with a reward system for not using their phones for pre-set periods. The RewardEd team has partnered with small businesses to develop the reward scheme providing students with unique discounts and rewards.
Speaking at the event Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of NUI Galway Launchpad said: “The diversity and creativity that we have across our campus is inspiring. These awards give students the opportunity to flourish, to develop their innovative ideas in a supportive, enabling and results driven environment. In partnership with our Innovation office we have invested €10,000 in supporting these early stage ideas to develop and grow over the remainder of 2019. In addition to funding, each team will receive mentorship from LaunchPad and our broader community of innovators and alumni.”
NUI Galway has been actively fostering new ideas and has supported over 120 collaborative staff and student projects since 2012 through the EXPLORE programme. EXPLORE is part of a wider innovation ecosystem at NUI Galway, explains David Murphy, Director of Innovation at NUI Galway: “Programmes such as EXPLORE contribute toward a culture of Innovation on campus, it is pervasive from student to start-up company. Many of the outputs of our extensive research portfolio are licensed to industry or leads to a new spin-out company.
“Our Business Innovation Centre and the wider campus is currently home to over 40 companies, where we provide business supports and excellent facilities including labs and co-working spaces to start-ups. This all feeds into and connects with the wider region, supporting innovation and enterprises both locally and globally.”
For more information about Explore, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/explore/.