The Irish Times Innovation Awards profiles

We profile the finalists in the three remaining categories for this year’s Irish Times Innovation Awards

Life Sciences and Healthcare, sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland

Crest Solutions

Crest Solutions has developed a system called LineClearance Assistant (LCA) that reduces the time it takes to complete a line inspection by up to 85 per cent when compared with human observations alone.

Line clearance is a standardised procedure in manufacturing for ensuring equipment and work areas are free of products, documents, and materials from a previous process.

The current line clearance process that is typically used across the life sciences industry usually requires two people to perform visual checks and a double visual checks of the entire production line to confirm the absence of any rogue components.

However, the LCA system digitalises the manual line clearance process, using a network of fixed IoT cameras that cover the line. The digital camera system can evaluate immediately and simultaneously whether each area is clear or has any rogue components present.

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An image of each location viewed by the cameras is time dated and stored in the LCA repository. If any deviation is detected, it is highlighted immediately to the user who can then focus on this specific highlighted area to record and correct the issue.

The system leads to greater quality control, increases efficiency, enables greater productivity, drives compliance and significantly reduces health and safety risks.

The company believes the total addressable market for line clearance solutions could be worth more than €500 million.

SilverCloud Health

SilverCloud Health provides digital behavioural mental healthcare. It has more than 30 online mental health programmes, having increased from 22 programmes over the past five years.

These programmes deal with issues including the impact of living with a long-term condition, wellbeing in coping with everyday issues, the pressure of higher education, programmes specific to children, and substance use.

Its customers range from healthcare providers to companies seeking to improve their mental health offering to their staff. It recently reached the milestone of having provided mental health support to one million people globally.

The company says 45 per cent of users with clinical levels of depression showed reliable improvement, while 57 per cent of users with clinical levels of anxiety showed reliable improvement.

Among the problems the product helps to alleviate are geographical barriers to accessing mental healthcare. It also provides increased levels of anonymity in relation to access, so people can receive care wherever they are and without fear of judgment.

People who may benefit from earlier intervention and treatment, while another aspect is the relief the service has not only on waiting lists, but the clinicians who are tasked with servicing that list.

Teleatherapy

Teleatherapy provides speech and language therapists with a web-based care management platform for Parkinson’s patients. Clinicians can customise care plans for patients, monitor their progress and adjust care accordingly.

Nine in 10 people with Parkinson’s disease will experience changes to their voice. Speech therapy can help slow the onset of these changes with a “use it, or lose it” approach.

Patients download a mobile app that delivers their care programme, analyses their voice and tracks their progress for their therapist. Many patients will have cognitive, physical or technological difficulties, so the app is streamlined and very simple to use.

Currently, there is no way to access speech therapy remotely that is constantly monitored by a speech and language therapist. Each time patients practise on the app, their performance is analysed and data is sent directly to the speech and language therapist in real time.

Speech and language therapists then build progress reports based on the consistent performance of the patients, allowing them to modify the session plans accordingly.

To date, the company has been working in Ireland with individuals with Parkinson’s disease and with branches of the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland which is paying for its members to use the service.

It is currently working on piloting the software in the HSE beginning in late 2022 in conjunction with Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

New Frontiers, sponsored by UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

The B!G Idea

The B!G Idea programme is a non-profit social enterprise that seeks to empower students to meet challenges using creative thinking.

It is aimed at 15- to 19-year-olds and seeks to foster skills such as problem solving, resilience, empathy, critical thinking, research, communication and collaboration.

The programme bridges the gap between industry and education, and encompasses students, teachers, mentors and companies. It allows users of all learning abilities to acquire new skills, gain advice from industry leaders and gain confidence.

Students are consulted to identify the top social stressors in their own lives, which in 2022 included climate change, the housing crisis, mental health, equality and healthcare.

The programme introduces participating students, including those who experience educational disadvantage, to a creative mindset.

Last year, 2,000 students across the State participated in the programme, while the company is seeking to double this number next year. It is also expanding to a number of Youthreach schools.

It has supported 98 teachers from varying subject disciplines to deliver the programme in 49 schools, 17 of which were Deis schools.

The programme is supported by the Creative Ireland programme with additional support from key industry partners.

Platform55

Platform55 seeks to help employers create family-friendly workplaces by providing tangible support to working parents and contributing to better mental health and employee morale.

It provides a scalable product with more than 130 hours of live expert training and coaching. Content is available in six languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Polish and Irish sign language). Customers can be on-boarded and live within 48 hours.

It also offers a diagnostic listening tool to give human resources personnel insights to contribute to policy and strategy development. It drives gender parity in the workforce by seeking to change the narrative for working fathers.

Customers get a “family-friendly” organisation score, while leaders and managers are equipped with the tools they need to lead modern families.

It prepares individuals taking maternity or paternity leave with e-learning modules, and helps new parents transition back to work from maternity or paternity leave.

Furthermore, it supports overwhelmed parents with coaching and expert advice on a range of topics from sleep training to child anxiety and cyber safety. There is access to information on issues such as surrogacy, fertility and bereavement.

Its target audience is organisations with more than 250 staff, and it is gaining traction in sectors such as finance, law, education and tech. It estimates that the portion of available market open to it that it can capture is worth €5.4 million.

TradeBid

TradeBid is an online, end-to-end auction platform where car dealers, manufacturers and lease companies buy and sell vehicles to and from each other.

It provides a fully online platform, where dealerships can browse, bid, pay and have vehicles delivered directly to their premises.

Traditionally, franchise dealerships would have a group of traders who would underwrite and purchase vehicles. TradeBid offers more than 800 registered approved dealers to purchase the same stock in and open and transparent marketplace.

TradeBid has opened the market to smaller dealers to purchase vehicles through its app both from a payment and delivery perspective.

Every vehicle is history checked, finance checked and inspected using advanced AI technology. It is also fully integrated with Stripe for payment for vehicles, and has partnered with NVD to fully automate the delivery of all vehicles purchased.

It is fully digital, unlike its closest competitor that runs traditional physical auctions that require cars to be transported back and forth. If a car doesn’t sell then the dealer must bring it back to their garage, costing them even more in fees.

It estimates that its serviceable obtainable market is about €30 million in terms of annual recurring revenue.

IT & Fintech, sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran

Galvia AI

Galvia AI’s platform provides insight-led data to enhance decision-making at educational institutions, ensuring they are best positioned to serve and encourage students.

Its principal purpose is to help alleviate the high number of frequently asked questions from staff and students. It is currently working with the University of Galway in upgrading its student services.

The partnership includes the launch of Cara, which is a digital assistant for web and mobile. It provides personalised and responsible information on student queries, enables contact with college staff and provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions.

These questions cover areas such as campus facilities and support services, as well as other day-to-day services. It integrates with existing apps, including WhatsApp, enabling students to find information.

Since Cara launched in November 2021, it has answered more than 10,000 queries with 4.7 per cent of these related to mental health issues.

Galvia also provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions from staff, reducing mundane tasks by 40 per cent and saving more than 500 staff errors over six-month periods.

The company estimates there is a total addressable market in the State and the UK worth €104 million. It is engaged with several additional universities across the State and the UK.

It has completed an investment round led by Focus Capital Partners, supported by Enterprise Ireland, where it raised funding of €2 million.

No Limit Branding

No Limit Branding is a new digital advertising company that provides personalised experiences to audiences in high-footfall locations by bringing two pieces of technology to the market featuring AI-based digital signage and analytics.

Its devices detect and report the audience age, gender and emotions, measuring the number of ad views, allowing advertisers to get feedback from their campaigns, all in line with GDPR.

Its cloud-based products offer clients’ data sets to allow them to understand the true impact of every euro spent.

It provides a detailed report every two weeks to clients demonstrating in real time how their ads have performed.

Over the past two years, it has established its presence in the Irish market and is soon to be focused on UK entry. Using partnerships in key areas across the UK, it hopes to scale aggressively.

This will also provide it with a platform before it launches on to the European stage. It says it is already seeing strong uptake in the Irish market with a current order book of 403 devices and a further 462 in the pipeline.

It is currently focusing on shopping centres nationwide. Then it plans to accelerate its network into large-scale, high-rise residential apartment blocks, commercial office blocks, iconic buildings, retail, airports, hospitals and car parks.

Protex AI

Protex AI offers technology that seeks to improve safety in the workplace and reduce workplace accidents. Its AI-powered technology enables businesses to gain greater visibility of unsafe behaviours in their facilities.

It tracks near misses using AI vision so customers have more reliable data to identify when things are starting to slip.

The platform plugs into existing CCTV infrastructure and uses its computer vision technologies to capture unsafe events autonomously in settings such as warehouses, manufacturing facilities and ports.

M&S, its flagship client, reduced unsafe incidents in one of its distribution centres by 80 per cent in 10 weeks by enabling its safety team to identify patterns in unsafe behaviours before implementing training to address the issues.

In one example, a customer was able to see from the data that non-compliance with wearing personal protective equipment increased when new workers were recruited, and reduced again once a programme of training was introduced.

The company has raised €18 million in seed and Series A funding. It employs 20 people in Ireland. Due to its recent investment, it is seeking to hire an additional 30 people in 2023 to grow both its commercial and technology teams.