The winners of a new competition to uncover innovative ideas with significant potential to become a business or social enterprise have been announced by NUI Galway.

The inaugural ‘Explore Innovation Awards’ uncovered some of the most promising and innovative activity on campus. Winning ideas included: creating life-like skin for use by surgical trainees; helping disabled drivers locate parking spots; and introducing philosophy to primary school children.

NUI Galway staff and students attended a special prize-giving ceremony hosted by the University’s Innovation Office where the winners across the two separate categories for staff and students were announced.

In the student awards category:

First prize was awarded to Bronwyn Reid McDermott a Masters student in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway for her novel innovation “Sutureself’ a simulated skin for advanced surgical trainees.

Second prize went to Eoghan Dunne, Eviasmar Almeida and Guilherme Vaz de Melo Trindade, PhD students in the Translational Medical Device Labs in NUI Galway for their project ‘I can see you now’ which seeks to use imaging technology to develop a medical device to improve patient diagnosis for prostate cancer.

Third prize was awarded to Aidan Breen, a PhD student in the College of Engineering and Informatics whose social innovation ‘Blue Spots Parking’ aims to help disabled drivers locate accessible parking spots in Ireland. This social innovation project will launch later in 2018.

In the staff awards category:

First prize was awarded to Dr Orla Richardson from the Philosophy Discipline at NUI Galway for ‘P4C’. The project works with schools, community groups and organisations that want to think more deeply and effectively, together.

Second prize was awarded to researchers Dr Peadar Rooney of CÚRAM, a researcher with CÚRAM, Dr Diana Gaspar of REMODEL, and Joshua Chao of REMEDI. Their project ‘Three Blind Mice’ aims to create Podcasts to promote science communication to non-scientific audiences.

Third prize went to Dr Ed Osagie from Insight whose project ‘CDN’ aims to utilise crowd discounts utilising network effect models.

Speaking at the event David Murphy, Director of Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The depth and breadth of proposals in these our inaugural Explore Innovation awards shows the diversity and creativity that we have across our campus. These awards give both students and staff the opportunity to flourish and develop their innovative ideas in a supportive, enabling and results driven environment. Over 30 applications to the competition were received and we are delighted to invest close to €10,000 in supporting these early stage ideas. The team will support the students and staff involved through the next stage of their projects.”

NUI Galway has been actively fostering new ideas and supporting over 100 collaborative staff and student projects since 2012 through its EXPLORE programme. EXPLORE is part of a wider innovation ecosystem at NUI Galway, explains David Murphy: “Many of the outputs of NUI Galway’s extensive research portfolio are licensed to industry or leads to a new spin-out company. Our Business Innovation Centre and the wider campus is currently home to over 40 companies, where we provide business supports and excellent facilities including labs and co-working spaces to start-ups. This all feeds into and connects with the wider region, supporting innovation and enterprises here in the west of Ireland.”

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