A celebration of bright ideas
Gabriel Scientific also won the overall Innovation of the Year award.The Dublin-based firm invented a pillow aimed at reducing the risk of infection from bedding.
“The interior of a pillow or a mattress or a duvet is almost like a Petri dish for bacteria – if you wanted to grow bacterial cultures you could do it very successfully in a warm piece of foam that was moist and in a hospital environment,” said David Woolfson, co-founder and chief executive of Gabriel Scientific.
The pillow is a particular flashpoint because of its position. “A pillow is at a point of high vulnerability; your nose, your mouth, your ears, your eyes are points of ingress into the body,” he said.
Gabriel Scientific’s patented technology that evolved, PneumaPure, uses a microporous membrane laminate on pillows, duvets, mattresses and cushions.
The textile itself is based on a material used in medical devices called stents that are implanted into blood vessels, but the company has adapted the material so that it keeps bugs from getting into the interior of the pillow.
“We devised a way of sealing it onto cushioning devices, which were hermetically sealed,” explained Woolfson.
“The only way air can pass in and out is through a filter, and the textile itself is vapour permeable; it’s akin to typical outdoor performance textiles. And once you have the technology locked down, you can apply it to pretty much any cushioning device.”
The resulting pillows save on laundry and replacement, and have stacked up well in microbiological tests, according to Woolfson.
Previous winners of the overall Innovation award include Sigmoid Pharma and InTune Networks.
This year’s award applications will be scrutinised by an independent panel of judges from the world of academia, media and business. The judging panel includes: Liam Kavanagh, managing director, The Irish Times; Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO, InterTradeIreland; Dr Ivan Coulter, CEO and founder of biotech firm Sigmoid Pharma and previous winner; Dr David Dobbin, CBE, group chief executive, United Dairy Farmers; Helen Kirkpatrick, non-executive director with UTV Media, Kingspan Group and corporate finance executive with Invest Northern Ireland; and Dr Chris Horn, co-founder of Iona Technologies.
Sponsors for the 2013 All Island Innovation Awards include: Teagasc (Agri-food); Byrne Wallace (Greentech); Accenture (Business Services); UCD (Social innovation/Creative Services); Science Foundation Ireland (Life Sciences).
The closing date for applications is Monday, December 3rd. For more information, see irishtimes.com/innovation