Wednesday, 19 June 2019

The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2019

21 June 2019 – Young entrepreneur pioneers wearable tech for cancer patients 

Start-up Lily Devices wins €15,000 in The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition to empower chemotherapy patients with unique wearable technology

Led by NUI Galway student Aaron Hannon, Lily Devices aims to eliminate chemotherapy-induced hair loss with a novel electrical stimulation treatment that is comfortable, portable and wearable. The finale took place at Ormeau Baths in Belfast as part of The Ireland Funds Conference.

Second runner up this year was Nearby. Team members, Merim Dzaferagic, Irene Macaluso, Conor Sexton were awarded €7,000 for their product, which helps telecom operators optimise the network configuration by using smart, automated and adaptive optimisation approaches 

Third runner up, Seamless Care supports the continuity of care for people with intellectual disability and .complex needs. Via their platform, carers can take photographs, record videos and make notes to communicate the needs and preferences of each individual. Unique data analytics provides insights into patterns of care and translates the sounds made by non-verbal people so that every care provider can understand their communications. 

This year, The Ireland Funds partnered with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) to award a prize of €5,000 to kick start a mental health focussed business plan. Auxilio scooped the prize for their app that provides between-session support to clients who are currently attending a therapist for psychological difficulties. This easy to use tool complements structured therapeutic interventions during moments of distress. 

Now in its eighth year, The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among Irish-based pre-seed entrepreneurs. Over the past six weeks, ten teams on the island of Ireland have had an opportunity to validate their business ideas, explore market opportunity and determine a business model. Along the way they have been mentored by industry domain leaders, and have worked closely with other entrepreneurs and the expert team at the NDRC. 

The Ireland Funds America Board Director, and Founder of the Business Plan Competition, Bill McKiernan said: ‘I proposed the idea of a Business Plan Competition to The Ireland Funds in 2010 during the depths of the Irish recession. The economic climate in Ireland was pretty bleak at the time and it was clear that the biggest contribution The Ireland Funds could make to Ireland was to help create jobs. Young people in Ireland should be encouraged to take risks. They need to be more comfortable with failure and the lessons learned from it. The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition hopes to do that’.

‘The quality of candidates this year was second to none, said Director Ireland, The Ireland Funds, Caitriona Fottrell. When the competition’s founder Bill McKiernan launched this competition eight years ago, none of us anticipated how vital it would become in supporting ambitious young entrepreneurs to kick start their business plans. We are also incredibly proud of our new partnership with SPMHS, as this highlights the growth of the competition and we hope to welcome new collaborations and partnerships as we continue to evolve’.  

Orla Gogarty, Director of Digital Health, Transformation and Partnerships, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services  said: St Patricks Mental Health Services is delighted to partner with the Ireland Funds and NDRC in sponsoring the inaugural special category prize for mental health in this year’s Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition. We believe that innovative technologies hold enormous potential to support positive mental health and wellbeing bypromoting education, valuing prevention and recovery, and enhancing accessible treatment and creative interventions. We hope to build on this positive partnership with The Ireland Funds and NDRC into the future, continuing to extend the range and availability of mental health services and supports and empowering people to live mentally healthy lives. 

The Business Plan Competition

The Ireland Funds has a long history of supporting excellence and addressing need in Ireland. Since 2012, and initially in response to the economic downturn, The Ireland Funds has run an annual Business Plan Competition that seeks to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills of Ireland’s next generation of business leaders. By working in partnership with third-level institutions, innovation hubs and focusing on early stage entrepreneurs, the Competition promotes the skills and resilience needed to develop indigenous industries, attract investors and, ultimately, to create jobs.

 Founded by San Francisco based Ireland Funds America Board Director, Bill McKiernan of WSM Capital, LLC, The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition finalists have a chance to win cash prizes as well as additional supports and mentorship. In 2017, The Ireland Funds partnered with NDRC to deliver The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition. Funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, NDRC finds, builds and invests in tech companies and start-up teams with the potential to grow internationally. 

About The Ireland Funds
The Ireland Funds’ mission is to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

About NDRC
NDRC sources and builds digital companies to invest in. NDRC has a mandate from the State (Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) to make commercial investments in early stage startups, ensuring digital entrepreneurship is a vibrant and growing part of the economy.



For more information, please contact:

Hannah Brogan
The Ireland Funds
+353 (0) 1 6627878

Helen Fullen
+353 (0) 87 977 1804


Hannah Brogan

Communications Manager

The Ireland Funds Ireland

Denshaw House, 121-122 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, Ireland

T - +353-1-662-7878

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