21st November 2018
Dublin software company Aid:Tech, which has developed a secure way to deliver aid and other benefits to people around the world using its blockchain-based platform has won the overall ‘Innovation of the Year Award 2018’.
The company was the first in the world to deliver international aid using blockchain technology when it helped to distribute relief among Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon on behalf of the Irish Red Cross.
Aid:Tech was founded by Joe Thompson and Niall Dennehy after Thompson ran the renowned 151-mile Moroccan desert marathon in 2009. Unfortunately, the money he raised disappeared and that led to an interest in the security benefits of blockchain technology for such endeavours.
“We found out that 30 per cent of international aid goes missing each year and we developed a solution which could verify to donors that their money has gone where it was intended,” said Dennehy.
The Awards, which are now in their ninth year, were presented at a ceremony attended by over 220 people at The Concert Hall, RDS, in Dublin last night. Aid:Tech won the IT and Fintech Award before going on to claim the top accolade ahead of four other category winners. Over 270 companies registered for the Awards this year.
As overall winner of ‘The Irish Times Innovation of the Year Award 2018’ Aid:Tech wins a unique communications package worth in excess of €150,000 and a scholarship for all three Executive Development courses from UCD Smurfit School commencing in 2019.
Dennehy described the award win as ‘very significant for Aid:Tech,
“We’re on a mission to bring transparency to the distribution of entitlements like welfare, remittances, donations and aid. We’re also retrieving and shining a spotlight on data that was never before accessible.”
“This award will also shine a light on AID:Tech, our consumer application TraceDonate and Enterprise offering Transparency Engine, which is now being deployed by governments and multi-lateral development banks. We’re also fundraising right now and already have seen some direct enquiries as a result of the award”.
“We hope this award will help us to play a role in supporting other start-ups and highlight what is possible with hard work, dedication, and above all else, innovation” Dennehy said.
Aid:Tech – How it works?
The Aid:Tech platform allows for the creation of a secure identity for an aid or welfare recipient, which is stored on a blockchain ledger and cannot be subsequently altered or erased.
Once the aid or government agency has created a digital identity for the individual recipient, the recipient stores these details in a QR code on their mobile phone or if they don’t have one, a plastic ID card. All the usual anti-money laundering systems are in place as part of the verification process. To receive aid, they simply scan the QR code. This gives full end-to end visibility from donor to recipient.
While the solution was originally created to support the international aid community, there are plans to roll it out to other areas. “It can be used to help people around the world to participate in the digital economy…People will be able to use it to gain access to micropayment services, banks and so on” Dennehy said.
In total, Dublin firms claimed four of the five category awards which were up for grabs. Parkpnp, a company which describes itself as the Airbnb of parking won the Sustainability category.
Parkpnp users can rent out car parking spaces by the hour, day, week or month, and cash in on hitherto underutilised assets. The company launched in 2015, and has now expanded into the Belgian and Dutch markets, while it is looking to conduct its first trial in the US shortly.
Innopharma, which is based in Sandyford, won the Manufacturing and Design Award for its work on modified-release drugs, specifically the development of a system which enables the uniform application of coatings to the active ingredients contained within a tablet or capsule.
Delayed release of active ingredients in a tablet is regulated via the coatings of those ingredients and this allows patients to take fewer tablets to achieve the same benefits. This makes it easier for them to take their medication on time every time. Innopharma’s innovation also enables pharma companies to manufacture a batch of drugs with a precise coating thickness efficiently.
The fourth Dublin company to win an award was Ballsbridge based BidX1 which won the New Frontiers category for its transparent and trusted online auction system which enables people to buy or sell property from anywhere in the world. The company says the key advantages of their system are efficiency, accountability and accessibility. While the typical residential sales process takes twenty-eight and a half weeks, on BidX1 it takes an average of nine and a half weeks.
Belfast based BrainWaveBank won the Life Sciences and Healthcare award for its ‘fitbit for the brain’ which has the potential to enable much earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases with a view to facilitating earlier and hopefully more effective treatment of these conditions. Users play games on an app, designed by the company to test cognitive function, while wearing a lightweight headset which is connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
The technology has been proven in a number of demonstrator trials and the company has just been asked by the Northern Ireland Department of Health to work on research into pre-psychosis in teenagers.
All the category award winners receive a €10,000 Irish Times media package.
Michael McAleer, Innovation Editor, at The Irish Times said the Awards underlined once again the importance of fostering a culture of innovation.
“It’s incredible to witness first-hand how companies all over the island are harnessing technology to provide better services and products for their customers. Many of these companies will no doubt go on to become industry leaders. Heartiest congratulations to Aid:Tech, to the other award winners, our finalists and indeed all who entered the Awards this year.”
The Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said companies that embrace innovation are more likely to grow, sustain growth and gain competitive advantage.
“My Department recognises the role of innovation in enterprise development and is committed to providing supports that encourage its widespread application. I would like to thank the Irish Times for providing this marvellous showcase that celebrates the very best of Irish achievement in innovation. We look forward to following the future success not just of our winners, but of all the nominees and the pioneering companies that entered the Awards.”
The Irish Times Innovation Awards 2018 are supported by The Irish Times in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, KPMG, Enterprise Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
For more information go to: http://www.irishtimes.com/innovationawards
For further information,
Contact Kieran Garry
01/6650455 or 087/2368366
Note to Editor
Category award winners
IT & Fintech – Aid:Tech
Life Sciences and Healthcare – BrainWaveBank
Manufacturing & Design – Innopharma
Sustainability – Parkpnp
New Frontiers – BidX1
Overall Innovation of the Year Award 2018 – Aid:Tech
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