Tech showcase provides plenty of scope for success

FutureScope took place last Wednesday at Dublin’s Convention Centre.

Tech showcase provides plenty of scope for success

The highlight of the annual tech event, which looks at evolving trends in business, was the One2Watch final where four start-ups pitched to demonstrate the market need of their business and its scalability potential.

The medical device company ProVerum Medical was the ultimate winner.

It was chosen by a panel of four judges comprising of Alison Cowzer of Dragons’ Den, NDRC’s Gary Leyden, Eoghan Stack of the DCU Ryan Academy and Bernadette O’Reilly of DIT Hothouse.

Founder Conor Harkin and his team receive €2,000 and a desk at the Guinness Enterprise Centre for three months.

Dr Harkin, whose simple device provides a non-invasive solution to a common condition called benign prostate disease, said he was “surprised” at the win, which was “excellent validation, great exposure”.

“As men get older, they prostate gland enlarges, and have problems urinating,” Dr Harkin said.

About 50% of men over 50 will suffer from the condition to some degree, he said.

“The current surgery is very invasive; it involves a three-day hospital stay and general anaesthetic.

“Our solution is a day-case procedure, under local anaesthetic. It’s a little implant that opens up the water passage; there’s no cutting involved. It’s good for the patient, good for the surgeon and good for the healthcare system as well,” he said.

As a former medical surgeon and business analyst, Dr Harkin took part in the NUIG BioInnovate programme, which puts engineers and business people together to find medical solutions.

With about one million operations to tackle this problem carried out worldwide each year, the business has huge scalability potential.

There are not many competitors for such a large market, says Dr Harkin.

Having invested in more than three years of pre-clinical work, the company is now starting trials at St James’s Hospital in Dublin and is looking for investors to raise €2.5m.

One of the other three finalists was WeSavvy, which founder Hesus Inoma describes as a “lifestyle personalisation engine” for insurance consumers to monetise their data.

“We built the platform from the point of view of the customer, and not the insurer,” he said.

The platform includes an app where consumers can connect their activity tracker or app like Google Fit, so whenever they walk, run or cycle they collect points they can use in the marketplace.

WeSavvy is one of the pioneers of this space and has the potential to transform the €4.3tn global insurance market; with life insurance worth €2.4tn, Mr Inoma says.

Mr Inoma, who has worked in the banking and insurance industry for over a decade, is in talks with Nokia to provide devices like connected scales, toothbrushes and blood pressure monitors.

Another finalist was Skytango, set up by Emmy-winning filmmakers and husband and wife team, Susan Talbot and Steven Flynn, who came up with the idea after returning to Ireland from the US five years ago.

Film sets were starting to use drones, so the couple decided to invest in a heavy lift drone and set up an aerial filming company.

Having built up a small stock library, Ms Talbot said they couldn’t populate it quickly enough to meet demand.

Ms Talbot said Skytango’s main customers are commercial drone flyers and content buyers, including broadcasters, news organisations, brand management and advertising agencies.

The platform is also used by landowners and those involved in infrastructure, construction, agriculture, real estate and insurance.

Hexafly co-founder Alvan Hunt says reaching the final of One2Watch is “fantastic validation and a great morale boost” for him and co-founders John Lynam and Patrick McGarvey.

The biotech start-up takes “low-value waste” from industries like food waste and brewing and uses insects to convert it into animal feed products.

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