UCC student scoops top entrepreneur award for brain injury detection device

A pocket-sized brain injury detection device for newborns has won the top prize in Enterprise Ireland's Student Entrepreneurs Awards.
UCC student scoops top entrepreneur award for brain injury detection device
Mark O'Sullivan, a PhD student at University College Cork, developed Neurobell, to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity in infants faster and with greater accuracy. Picture: UCC

A pocket-sized brain injury detection device for newborns has won the top prize in Enterprise Ireland's Student Entrepreneurs Awards.

Mark O'Sullivan, a PhD student at University College Cork, developed Neurobell, to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity in infants faster and with greater accuracy.

The Neurobell founder, one of 10 finalists, received a €10,000 cash prize fund as well as the opportunity to avail of specialist advice and assistance from Enterprise Ireland.

This is the 39th year of the awards, which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Mark is pursuing a doctorate, funded by the Irish Research Council, in electronic engineering on the Neurobell project in the INFANT Research Centre and embedded Systems Research Group in UCC.

“This award will help Neurobell on the road to commercialisation and help me excel as an entrepreneur,” said Mark, who started developing the technology for Neurobell in 2016.

“Sincere thanks to my academic advisors and colleagues, and to the entrepreneurship ecosystem in UCC which has provided me with the support and resources to achieve this."

Mark said the full prototype would be ready by the end of this year: “Hopefully, at some stage next year, we will be looking towards a clinical trial or pilot study of the device.”

Mark said newborn brain injuries that occur in 2% of all births can account for up to 23% of infant deaths.

“We are trying to make the diagnosis of those injuries earlier so that treatment can be started sooner."

Clinicians are currently reliant on conventional Electroencephalography (EEG) monitors, big trolley-based monitors, that require a neurophysiologist to interpret the data.

Simon Dring from Cork Institute of Technology took home the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award for his device to improve concussion awareness and player safety at all levels.

His product, the TraumAlert, uses a sensor system placed in a mouthguard, to identify when the acceleration of the head during a match it exceeds a defined dangerous threshold.

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

Richard Murphy, from Enterprise Ireland, said nurturing talent and fostering entrepreneurship helped drive Ireland's global business reputation.

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