Brandon Blacoe from Salthill and Eibhlin O’Riordan from Knocknacarra, Co Galway, co-founders of ByoWave, have won a place on Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s Impact Awards programme and secured €20,000 in unrestricted funding for their organisation. ByoWave makes modular, accessible, and customisable video game controllers for people with disabilities, enabling everyone to build their own way to play.
The SEI Impact Programme is a nine-month accelerator programme that identifies high-potential social entrepreneurs and supports them through significant funding and mentoring, as well as providing access to a network of support. Impact Awardees receive training in areas such as fundraising, governance, leadership, and storytelling. The 2021 programme attracted more than 110 applications from all corners of Ireland with ByoWave being one of the five organisations to successfully pitch for a place and secure an equal share of the €100,000 funding available.
ByoWave aims to alleviate the exclusion and isolation felt by people with disabilities due to inaccessible games controllers. ByoWaves estimates that there are over 180 million disabled gamers worldwide who are unable to to play video games due to inaccessible video game controllers.
Co-founder Eibhlin O’Riordan is one of these people. She has a disability - Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - that means she can only play games with one hand. Each ByoWave controller is made up of a set of electronic cubes that can connect together at any angle. The user connects their cubes together to create whatever shape they want to accommodate their specific disability. ByoWave’s office is based in the GMIT iHub.
Speaking about the SEI Impact Award win, Ms O’Riordan said “It means the world that an organisation like SEI is supporting us with our mission to make gaming and technology more accessible.”
Mr Blacoe added: “Finding a community whose fundamental drive is social good, and being selected as a member within it, has re-energised the passion I found at UCD to innovate and engineer world class assistive technology that solves real problems for real people.”
Commenting, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Tim Griffiths said the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that innovation and resilience are two of our strongest assets. The role of social entrepreneurship and the individuals whose insight, inspiration and tenacity to create the solutions to our social problems, has never been in greater demand.
“As we continue to live through these extraordinary and challenging times, it is truly heartening to see so many people stepping up and sharing their ideas to tackle social problems. I’d like to thank everyone who applied to the SEI this year and extend mycongratulations to ByoWave and all our incredible Impact Awardees who are already making such a difference across Ireland.”
Since its foundation in 2004, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has supported more than 400 social entrepreneurs across the country to move from idea to action and develop solutions that are transforming Ireland’s approach social problems. Alumni of SEI include AsIAm, FoodCloud, Grow Remote, jumpAgrade, Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance and The Shona Project.
For more information on this year’s Impact Awardees and the work of SEI, visit socialentrepreneurs.ie