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AXA PPP Health Tech & You: The Professional’s Choice Award Shortlist: TickerFit

Thank you so much to Julia Manning and the team at 2020Health for their post about our shortlisting for the AXA PPP Health Tech & You, Professional's Choice Award! 

"TickerFit was founded by chartered physiotherapist Avril Copeland. Avril founded the company after becoming frustrated seeing the same patients readmitted to hospital due to a lack of follow on support.

TickerFit enables healthcare providers to deliver primary and secondary prevention interventions to patients remotely. Through a web based platform health professionals can customise a programme of exercise education reminders and patient reported outcomes.

The patient’s curriculum is delivered to them via the mobile application. The patient completes daily tasks to fulfil their personalised curriculum. In primary care GPs are using TickerFit to deliver physical activity interventions to patients at risk of cardiovascular disease. Two RCTs are underway. TickerFit is being piloted in cardiac rehabilitation. Patients who are unable to attend the traditional model of cardiac rehab are being prescribed TickerFit."

Judges Comments:

“A new way of rehabilitation for patients who cannot have the traditional type of cardiac rehab”

“Cloud based so easily accessible but safe for medical professionals to access”

“Easy monitoring of health condition and improvement through rehabilitation”

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The artificial intelligence revolutionising healthcare - Irish Times

irish-times.jpg

By 2019, all Irish maternity hospitals will be using advanced newborn-monitoring tech

Last year, it was reported that supercomputer IBM Watson diagnosed a rare form of leukaemia in a patient at a University of Tokyo-affiliated hospital whose case had baffled her medical team.

The cloud-based, artificial intelligence-powered supercomputer is capable of cross-referencing and analysing data from tens of millions of oncology papers from research institutes all over the world. From vast volumes of data, it can instantly pull out the information it needs, much faster than humans can.

The University of Tokyo reported that the 60-year-old Japanese woman was correctly diagnosed in just 10 minutes by Watson, after her genetic data was cross-referenced with the computer’s own database.

More and more, health technologies originally viewed as futuristic – like virtual avatars and chatbots – have become reality. These technologies use artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic conversation with people, interact on the internet and perform other tasks that would normally require human intelligence.

One example of this is Sensely, a mobile triage smartphone app currently being trialled by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

Olivia, Sensely’s artificially intelligent virtual nurse, guides patients naturally through their personal healthcare needs on demand 24/7, 365 days a year. The blue-eyed, dewy skinned young woman in blue NHS scrubs, gathers information by listening to the patient and asking questions, similar to a person-to-person interaction with a clinician.

Become a reality

Sensely was developed by a Californian start-up, but as Richard Corbridge, chief executive of eHealth Ireland points out, there’s no need to go to California to see examples of how AI is revolutionising healthcare. Five out of the top 10 start-ups in Dublin last year were in the digital health arena, he says.

Corbridge will be speaking at this week’s Dublin Technology Summit 2017 (February 15th to 16th) on the topic of “Health Reality, Not Science Fi”.

 

“Things are moving so fast that technologies we would have regarded as sci-fi last year, will become a reality this year. Over the last couple of years, Ireland has made some really big strides in digital healthcare,” he says.

“We are still the last ‘first world’ country not to have a national electronic health record (EHR) in place, yet we are way ahead in other areas, like DNA genome sequencing.”

The eHealth Epilepsy Lighthouse Project has developed the infrastructure to sequence the genome (figure out the order of DNA nucleotides in a complete set of genes) in patients and to record this information for clinicians to use in the delivery of care. The significance of sequencing the genome is that it can be used by healthcare systems across the world to predict what will happen to an individual patient’s health.

Corbridge remarks: “Take a patient with epilepsy who has had an epileptic seizure every day for 20 years at least. By taking a sample of that patient’s DNA, we can sequence the genome and enter the information into his/her EHR.

“The multidisciplinary team can then use this data to change or adapt the patient’s care plan. Within a week of one patient on the project changing his diet, he went a full day without having a fit for the first time in 20 years.”

Over the past few weeks, every maternity hospital in Ireland has been visited by teams from eHealth Ireland to identify where the gaps are in their digital health capabilities and to close them.

“Going forward, every newborn baby in hospital will have three devices in their cot, monitoring respiration, temperature and heart rate. All of this information is automatically transferred to the baby’s EHR.

Vital information

“Instead of constantly checking these levels in individual patients, each nurse has a tablet PC where they can see the vital information on all the babies in their care at their fingertips, including requests for tests and scans and results. Within the next two years, every hospital in Ireland will have this technology. It’s an amazing leap for Ireland in a short space of time,” says Corbridge.

With an increased emphasis on getting patients to self-manage their health where possible, rapid advances are being made in smartphone and wearable devices. Another eHealth project is an app for patients with bipolar disorder which uses a chatbot to engage with the user, monitor their mood and try to keep them on the right track. With the patient’s consent, the app can contact their carer or GP if it feels they need support.

Dublin-based start-up TickerFit enables health professionals to prescribe, educate and monitor a heart patient’s recovery from a distance through a wearable device. Founder Avril Coleman is another of the speakers at this week’s summit which brings global leaders in innovation, technology and business together to shape the future of global trends and technologies. The two-day summit will host 10,000 members of the tech community at the Convention Centre Dublin this Thursday and Friday.

Fabian Bolin, cofounder of War on Cancer, will be talking about waroncancer.com, an online storytelling community to help people deal with the mental challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.

Music’s new role in healthcare and the evolving world of HealthTunes will be explored in a session entitled “When Medicine Rocks”, with the panel discussing the possibility of a time when music, given its undeniable influence on our emotions, could be prescribed along with conventional medicines.

To learn more visit dublintechsummit.com.

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TickerFit awarded Best Industry/Health System Collaboration by IMSTA

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TickerFit awarded Best Industry/Health System Collaboration by IMSTA

 
 

TickerFit were delighted to receive the award for Best Industry/Health System Collaboration by the Irish Medical Surgical and Trade Association, at their recent awards ceremony at Croke Park. The annual IMSTA awards celebrate the achievements of medical technology companies working in the Irish health system.  TickerFit were shortlisted for three awards on the night and were delighted to win Best Industry/Health System Collaboration. Sponsored by Prospectus Management Consultants, TickerFit were recognised for their work in both primary and secondary prevention in Ireland.

Founder/CTO Greg Balmer accepting the award for Best Industry/Health Care System Collaboration

Founder/CTO Greg Balmer accepting the award for Best Industry/Health Care System Collaboration

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Launch of Ireland's National Health Innovation Hub, 26th September 2016, Cork

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Launch of Ireland's National Health Innovation Hub, 26th September 2016, Cork

On September 26th, we had the great opportunity to be part of the official launch of Ireland's National Health Innovation Hub.  As part of the launch, we got to showcase TickerFit to the many notable attendees including, Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney.  A wonderful morning of excitement and innovation.

 

 

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eHealth in Revolution Conference, Dublin Castle, 15th - 17th September, 2016

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eHealth in Revolution Conference, Dublin Castle, 15th - 17th September, 2016

I recently had the honour of speaking at the eHealth in Revolution conference at Dublin Castle. The conference is the brainchild of Professor Ken McDonald and his team at The Heartbeat Trust, Ireland's National Heart Failure charity.  

The conference boasted an impressive line up of both national and international speakers, all of whom have the common interest of using technology to make the delivery of healthcare more effective and efficient. Notable speakers included Dr. Paul Grundy (IBM), Dr. Evan Muse (Scripps Healthcare) and Prof. Alan Maisel, (University of California)

Proceedings began on Thursday evening with a talk from Minister for Health, Simon Harris and from then on a steady stream of experts in ehealth took to the stage. Topics ranged from data protection to heart failure virtual consults to interesting panel sessions asking the question of what ehealth can and does deliver. 

Minister for Health, Simon Harris opens the conference

Minister for Health, Simon Harris opens the conference

I had the opportunity to speak on Friday the 16th and spoke to the audience of mainly health professionals, researchers and industry about, "eHealth in the Real World - Trials and Tribulations". Thankfully our talk was warmly received and it was great to meet and connect with so many enthusiastic attendees who really understood the need for our work.  

The ever inspiring and entertaining, Dr. Johnny Walker of Health Founders

The ever inspiring and entertaining, Dr. Johnny Walker of Health Founders

An incredibly well run conference with notable speakers from around the world and FREE to attend.  Whats not to love :) 

A must for next year's calendar.    

The conference programme can be viewed HERE

The conference was recorded for education purposes, therefore all the talks are available HERE.  Its free to register. 

eHealth in the Real World - Trials and Tribulations

eHealth in the Real World - Trials and Tribulations

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NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016, Manchester Central

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NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016, Manchester Central

This year we were delighted to be part of the 2016 Health and Care Innovation Expo.  On both days we had the opportunity to present TickerFit to a mixed audience of health professionals and NHS executives. There was a great atmosphere at the conference.  One of accomplishment about the advances the NHS has already made, excitement about current and future plans around implementing the Five Year Forward View, and finally, a feeling of true focus and synergy among the delegates, all on the same mission of making the delivery of world class care more efficient and accessible. 

 
 
New Care Models Zone at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016

New Care Models Zone at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016

Preparing for the first pitch of TickerFit at the New Care Models Zone

Preparing for the first pitch of TickerFit at the New Care Models Zone

Over the 2 days I had the honour of chairing the expert panel session "Accelerating Care: new-models.digital".  The Speakers included Dr Paul Grundy MD, MPH, FACOEM, FACPM, Chief Medical Officer and Global Director of Healthcare Transformation for IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences; Dr Nav Chana MA Ed, MBBS, FRSGP, Chair of the NAPC and GP in Mitcham, Surrey; Dr Junaid Bajwa, Director of Healthcare Services at MSD UK; and Claire Oatway, Chief Operating Officer at Beacon Medical Group.  

 

It was a really interesting session, where we heard from experts leading the way in primary care. Our first panelist, Dr. Paul Grundy is the chief medical officer and global director of healthcare transformation for IBM's Healthcare and Life Science Industry.  Also known as the “godfather” of the Patient Centred Medical Home movement, Dr. Grundy shared his learnings from his work in the US and also from the numerous countries he has been working with around the world.  

Avril and Dr. Paul Grundy, 'Godfather' of the Patient Centred Medical Home Movement

Avril and Dr. Paul Grundy, 'Godfather' of the Patient Centred Medical Home Movement

Dr. Nav Chana, Chairman of the National Association of Primary Care where they are leading the way on the "Primary Care Home (PCH)".  Dr. Chana informed the audience on his work in supporting the current transformation of Primary Care in England and how digital innovations are supporting this work.  Dr. Bajwa, GP and Director of Healthcare Services at MSD UK and Claire Oatway from Beacon Medical Group spoke of their work in implementing the Primary Care Home model, their experiential learning and the key insights they have gained.  Dr. Bajwa also spoke about how digital technologies can be used to accelerate and make more efficient primary care in England. Overall a really interesting and informative session from a very experienced and well respected panel of experts.  The enthusiasm for digital solutions like TickerFit was evident during the panel session, but also throughout the entire expo.  At TickerFit, we believe we can play a pivotal role in helping achieve the objectives outlined in the Five Year Forward View.  We look forward to working with NHS England to realise this. 

Thank you to all the speakers, Velocity Health, MSD UK and all the attendees of the Expo who showed such great interest in the Pop Up University and also our work at TickerFit.

 
 

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      by Avril Copeland @AvrilC /TickerFit    FRom Darkness to Light and all the dots in between:       Shining a light on entrepreneurship…          

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


       It was 3.10am in the morning and my Uber had just left. I was standing alone in the visitors car park of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was dark, however the bright lights of the bridge shone far enough to light the windy path up to the lookout. As the sight of the bridge unfolded before me, a wave of immense pride and exhilaration took hold.        As my potentially, over inspired Facebook friends will know, I’m a big fan of inspirational quotes. My most favourite is by Steve Jobs, “Connecting the Dots”:    You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. - Steve Jobs    I left a convent girls school in the 90s, moved to Nashville to work in the country music industry, studied exercise science and physiotherapy, worked in a hospital, to now being a founder and CEO of a digital healthcare company. As someone who has taken a more unconventional path, not only do I like this quote, standing there looking out over the bay, in that moment, never was there a more apt quote that represented my life.   February 2016    T hree months previous, I had received an email to say I was being referred by  Dogpatch Labs  in Dublin, to interview and pitch for a place on the  Google For Entrepreneur’s blackbox Programme . This is a two week fully funded, immersive programme in San Francisco that gives selected founders the chance to learn from some of the wisest minds in the US about building and scaling a business. This year, blackbox was running its second female founder programme and was selecting 15 founders from around the world to take part in the programme run by the inspirational,  Fadi Bishara .      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Google is world renowned for the quality and effort they put into supporting entrepreneurs. On the same day I did my interview for blackbox, a second Google programme, the  Google Digital Health Exchange  was announced and made an appearance on my Twitter feed. I clicked the link and amazingly, this year it was going to be held in none other then my second home, Nashville, Tennessee, where I had spent seven of the best years of my life. Coincidently, the programme was due to be held the week after blackbox.  I awaited the ping of my inbox for the outcome of both the blackbox programme and the Digital Health Exchange programme selections. My cofounder,  Greg Balmer  was ever supportive. While if selected it meant that I would be away for nearly a month, both Greg and I knew that it would ultimately be of huge benefit to the business.  The emails came within days of each other, with the news that we had been chosen for both programmes. It was an exciting few days, as flights were booked and plans were made.    Darkness Into Light     In  2009 I was asked to be part of a committee for  Pieta House , the suicide and self harm intervention charity in Dublin. Pieta House are an incredible organisation founded by the equally incredible, Joan Freeman. Joan and Pieta House were putting a committee in place to organise a 5k walk/run event which would be called  Darkness Into Light .      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Darkness Into Light starts at 4am in the morning and participants finish just as the sun rises. It is a symbolic event showing all those in darkness, that the light will soon come. At our very first event in May 2009, 400 participants walked and ran the 5 km in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. We gave out home made certificates to all the participants and used my mother’s garden canopies as registration ‘tents’. It was grassroots to say the least.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Since then, the people of Ireland have taken this event and cause and grown it into perhaps what is one of the most successful charity events that has ever been. In a solemn display of solidarity, every May, hundreds of thousands of people, from Dublin to Dubai and from Tipperary to Taiwan, turn up at 4am in the morning to make a united stand against suicide. This year there were over 100 venues around the world.  Like everyone, I have had proud moments in my life. Graduating from college, representing Ireland in sport, however, being involved and starting Darkness Into Light with  Pieta House  and my fellow committee members, has definitely given me the most joy. Knowing this year if successful with blackbox I would miss the event, made our success with the programmes somewhat bittersweet.  A few days before I was to inform my fellow committee members that I would be missing DIL, in yet another twist of fate, it was announced that this year, San Francisco would hold its very first  Darkness Into Light  which would take place at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Of course the dots connected yet again. Darkness Into Light San Francisco would take place May 7th. I would start blackbox on May 8th, and then on May 21st I would fly to Nashville to begin the Digital Health Exchange. Somehow all of these events lined up perfectly, one after the other.   San Francisco    On  May 5th, I flew to San Francisco. The morning of May 7th, I got an Uber to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitors Centre. I was early and got there before everyone arrived. Standing there looking out over the bay, the enormity of the occasion overwhelmed me. How had all the stars aligned to make it possible for me to be there on this momentous morning? As Steve Jobs said, you can’t connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them going back. In that moment, every decision I had made, no matter how hard or crazy it seemed to many, somehow made this trip and this moment possible. More importantly, this moment somehow made all those decisions that had come before it, make sense.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Like they did on that May morning all those years ago, the Irish rose early from their beds and made their way to the bridge for the very first Darkness Into Light San Francisco. With everyone registered, the event was kicked off by dedicated race director, Claire Eades Christian. With ever step, the Irish turned a bridge normally known for such sorrow and tragedy, into a beacon of hope. It was awe inspiring to see the sea of yellow cross the bridge. I know DIL San Francisco will grow year on year, helping all those in darkness, see the light.    blackbox    The next day I made my way to The Fact0ry , the house I would eat, sleep and work in for the next two weeks. Greeted by my friend and one of Ireland’s best entrepreneurs  Leonora O’Brien , I was shown my room and given a tour of the house/mansion. For anyone born before the mid — 80s, you may remember “ The Real World San Francisco ”. This is the best way to imagine the house. It was a stunning, somewhat quirky mansion in the Alamo Square Historic District of San Francisco. While on the surface it appeared to be a regular building, kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms. Underneath, it possessed a magical quality which seemed to facilitate collaboration, deep connection and inspiration. It provided an environment which made the experience at blackbox so utterly incredible, and possibly indescribable.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


      My housemates were a group of formidable women from as far away as China . While English wasn’t everyone’s first language, the blackbox experience somehow made that irrelevant. These two weeks were some of the most memorable, inspiration filled and empowering (note: I think this word is over used, however, taking liberties) weeks I possibly have ever experienced. Each day the greatest and most innovative minds in California traveled to meet us at our house and share their wisdom in our living room. Fireside chats every day in the comfort of our ‘home’. People like  Keith Teare from TechCruch  & Archimedes Labs,  Sharon Vosmek  from  Astia ,  Jenny Lefcourt  from Freestyle VC,  Etienne Deffarges ,  Ann Winblad from HWVP , all came to learn about our businesses, give us feedback and then share their thoughts and their journeys.  While we spent most days at The Fact0ry, we also took day trips…. day trips money can’t buy. At Google we got to hear from people like  Gretchen Howard from Google Capital  and  Ching-Yu Hu from Skybox  whose company was acquired by Google (warning: majorly inspiring story). After the best buffet lunch, we had an enlightening afternoon of mentorship by the Google Launchpad Team.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     On another afternoon we were given a VIP tour of  Eventbrite , followed by a questions and answers session with  Julia Hartz , the founder and force behind Eventbrite. As if that wasn’t enough, our evening was spent at Bloomingdales listening to  Jessica Herrin  speak about her new book, her startup journey with the Wedding Channel and now her super successful company, Stella and Dot.  As the two weeks drew to a close, we all said our farewells. It was sad to be saying goodbye to what will be life long friends, but it was also exciting getting home to implement and to share what we had learned through the experience. A huge thank you to Fadi, Ana, Sanita, MacKenzie, Jacob, Bill and all the incredibly inspiring women who are making such a dent…… (FYI: coining the phrase #makeadent #makingadent :)      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     blackbox Connect #15  Click here to view the companies that were selected:  blackbox.vc    Google for Entrepreneurs Digital Health Exchange    On Saturday the 21st, I flew to my second home, Nashville, Tennessee. Having spent seven years working in music, it was a great feeling returning to be part of Nashville’s other leading industry, healthcare. On Sunday 22nd the eight selected teams met at the  Nashville Entrepreneur Cent er. It was wonderful to finally get the opportunity to see and tour Nashville’s beautiful Entrepreneur Centre. An incredible environment, purpose built to inspire and invoke innovation.  The eight teams consisted of healthcare innovators from across the US and South America who were building companies to make real impact. Products included devices which stop IV dislodgement, a new breast cancer screening test and a digital health application which allows caregivers communicate and collaborate around their loved one’s care. They were all inspiring start-ups and equally inspiring teams.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     The team at the Entrepreneur’s Centre managed to get some of the most senior influencers in not only Nashville’s healthcare industry, but in the US healthcare industry to come to the centre and meet us and share their knowledge. We had speakers from people like  David Guth, CEO of Centerstone , Ed Cantwell from the  Center for Medical Interoperability ,  Sean Sheppard from GrowthX , along with practical advisor sessions, where teams of industry leaders sat in rooms with us for hours, and helped us navigate different challenges.  One highlight was an evening spent at the Nashville Convention Centre. It was such an honour to meet the  Commissioner of Health for Tennessee, Dr. John Dreyzehner , his wife Jana and the  Tennessee Commissioner of Economic Growth and Community Development ,  Randy Boyd . Dr. John Dreyzehner is definitely one of the most innovative leaders and thinkers in health that I have ever met.  The networking, knowledge and experience we gained during that week would have otherwise taken years to acquire. A truly incredible, fruitful and enlightening experience. We got to see all the highlights of Nashville and learn from the very best in the business. Thanks to the Nashville Entrepreneur Centre team,  Kelli , Maggie, Heather,  Sam , Jeremy, John and Julia for doing such an incredible job, and of course my peers on the programme for making it so enjoyable.      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Photo by Nashville Entrepreneur Center   Companies at the Digital Health Exchange:    Adrastia Biotechnology   ,    LineGard Med   ,    TickerFit   ,    Care Advisor   ,    Huli Health   ,   Homeward Healthcare   ,    Carely   ,   ScriptDrop    It has taken a few weeks for everything to sink in. How did everything align so perfectly? I got to be part of the very first Darkness Into Light San Francisco, share three inspiring weeks with some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, learning from the brightest minds, and of course, visit one of my most favourite places, Nashville, Tennessee.  One of my good friends once described our hearts as a puzzle. That every piece to complete the puzzle is out there on the road ahead. That road curves and bends, v’s and sometimes even dead ends. Those pieces are scattered, some flipped upside down, some visible from the road and some hidden. The road is lined with exits which invite us to turn off at any stage. While it can be much easier to pull over and take the exit, it is so much more worthwhile to keep moving forward, watching the pieces of the puzzle come together and fill the gaps. Eventually the picture will be complete. As for now, I’m still on the road, a few missing pieces still drawing me forward.  (Thanks Emilie Hester)   DOTS : CONNECTED    A huge thank you to  Mary Grove  &  Genna McKeel  from Google For Entrepreneurs,  Liz McCarthy  &  Patrick Walsh  from Dogpatch Labs, Google Ireland, blackbox, the Nashville Entrepreneurs Centre, Pieta House for all their incredible work and most importantly my wonderful Cofounder Greg Balmer who keeps it all going :)   

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by Avril Copeland @AvrilC /TickerFit

FRom Darkness to Light and all the dots in between:

Shining a light on entrepreneurship…

It was 3.10am in the morning and my Uber had just left. I was standing alone in the visitors car park of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was dark, however the bright lights of the bridge shone far enough to light the windy path up to the lookout. As the sight of the bridge unfolded before me, a wave of immense pride and exhilaration took hold.

As my potentially, over inspired Facebook friends will know, I’m a big fan of inspirational quotes. My most favourite is by Steve Jobs, “Connecting the Dots”:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.
- Steve Jobs

I left a convent girls school in the 90s, moved to Nashville to work in the country music industry, studied exercise science and physiotherapy, worked in a hospital, to now being a founder and CEO of a digital healthcare company. As someone who has taken a more unconventional path, not only do I like this quote, standing there looking out over the bay, in that moment, never was there a more apt quote that represented my life.

February 2016

Three months previous, I had received an email to say I was being referred by Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, to interview and pitch for a place on the Google For Entrepreneur’s blackbox Programme. This is a two week fully funded, immersive programme in San Francisco that gives selected founders the chance to learn from some of the wisest minds in the US about building and scaling a business. This year, blackbox was running its second female founder programme and was selecting 15 founders from around the world to take part in the programme run by the inspirational, Fadi Bishara.

Google is world renowned for the quality and effort they put into supporting entrepreneurs. On the same day I did my interview for blackbox, a second Google programme, the Google Digital Health Exchange was announced and made an appearance on my Twitter feed. I clicked the link and amazingly, this year it was going to be held in none other then my second home, Nashville, Tennessee, where I had spent seven of the best years of my life. Coincidently, the programme was due to be held the week after blackbox.

I awaited the ping of my inbox for the outcome of both the blackbox programme and the Digital Health Exchange programme selections. My cofounder, Greg Balmer was ever supportive. While if selected it meant that I would be away for nearly a month, both Greg and I knew that it would ultimately be of huge benefit to the business.

The emails came within days of each other, with the news that we had been chosen for both programmes. It was an exciting few days, as flights were booked and plans were made.

Darkness Into Light

In 2009 I was asked to be part of a committee for Pieta House, the suicide and self harm intervention charity in Dublin. Pieta House are an incredible organisation founded by the equally incredible, Joan Freeman. Joan and Pieta House were putting a committee in place to organise a 5k walk/run event which would be called Darkness Into Light.

Darkness Into Light starts at 4am in the morning and participants finish just as the sun rises. It is a symbolic event showing all those in darkness, that the light will soon come. At our very first event in May 2009, 400 participants walked and ran the 5 km in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. We gave out home made certificates to all the participants and used my mother’s garden canopies as registration ‘tents’. It was grassroots to say the least.

Since then, the people of Ireland have taken this event and cause and grown it into perhaps what is one of the most successful charity events that has ever been. In a solemn display of solidarity, every May, hundreds of thousands of people, from Dublin to Dubai and from Tipperary to Taiwan, turn up at 4am in the morning to make a united stand against suicide. This year there were over 100 venues around the world.

Like everyone, I have had proud moments in my life. Graduating from college, representing Ireland in sport, however, being involved and starting Darkness Into Light with Pieta House and my fellow committee members, has definitely given me the most joy. Knowing this year if successful with blackbox I would miss the event, made our success with the programmes somewhat bittersweet.

A few days before I was to inform my fellow committee members that I would be missing DIL, in yet another twist of fate, it was announced that this year, San Francisco would hold its very first Darkness Into Light which would take place at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Of course the dots connected yet again. Darkness Into Light San Francisco would take place May 7th. I would start blackbox on May 8th, and then on May 21st I would fly to Nashville to begin the Digital Health Exchange. Somehow all of these events lined up perfectly, one after the other.

San Francisco

On May 5th, I flew to San Francisco. The morning of May 7th, I got an Uber to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitors Centre. I was early and got there before everyone arrived. Standing there looking out over the bay, the enormity of the occasion overwhelmed me. How had all the stars aligned to make it possible for me to be there on this momentous morning? As Steve Jobs said, you can’t connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them going back. In that moment, every decision I had made, no matter how hard or crazy it seemed to many, somehow made this trip and this moment possible. More importantly, this moment somehow made all those decisions that had come before it, make sense.

Like they did on that May morning all those years ago, the Irish rose early from their beds and made their way to the bridge for the very first Darkness Into Light San Francisco. With everyone registered, the event was kicked off by dedicated race director, Claire Eades Christian. With ever step, the Irish turned a bridge normally known for such sorrow and tragedy, into a beacon of hope. It was awe inspiring to see the sea of yellow cross the bridge. I know DIL San Francisco will grow year on year, helping all those in darkness, see the light.

blackbox

The next day I made my way toThe Fact0ry, the house I would eat, sleep and work in for the next two weeks. Greeted by my friend and one of Ireland’s best entrepreneurs Leonora O’Brien, I was shown my room and given a tour of the house/mansion. For anyone born before the mid — 80s, you may remember “The Real World San Francisco”. This is the best way to imagine the house. It was a stunning, somewhat quirky mansion in the Alamo Square Historic District of San Francisco. While on the surface it appeared to be a regular building, kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms. Underneath, it possessed a magical quality which seemed to facilitate collaboration, deep connection and inspiration. It provided an environment which made the experience at blackbox so utterly incredible, and possibly indescribable.

My housemates were a group of formidable women from as far away as China. While English wasn’t everyone’s first language, the blackbox experience somehow made that irrelevant. These two weeks were some of the most memorable, inspiration filled and empowering (note: I think this word is over used, however, taking liberties) weeks I possibly have ever experienced. Each day the greatest and most innovative minds in California traveled to meet us at our house and share their wisdom in our living room. Fireside chats every day in the comfort of our ‘home’. People like Keith Teare from TechCruch & Archimedes Labs, Sharon Vosmek from AstiaJenny Lefcourt from Freestyle VC, Etienne DeffargesAnn Winblad from HWVP, all came to learn about our businesses, give us feedback and then share their thoughts and their journeys.

While we spent most days at The Fact0ry, we also took day trips…. day trips money can’t buy. At Google we got to hear from people like Gretchen Howard from Google Capital and Ching-Yu Hu from Skybox whose company was acquired by Google (warning: majorly inspiring story). After the best buffet lunch, we had an enlightening afternoon of mentorship by the Google Launchpad Team.

On another afternoon we were given a VIP tour of Eventbrite, followed by a questions and answers session with Julia Hartz, the founder and force behind Eventbrite. As if that wasn’t enough, our evening was spent at Bloomingdales listening to Jessica Herrin speak about her new book, her startup journey with the Wedding Channel and now her super successful company, Stella and Dot.

As the two weeks drew to a close, we all said our farewells. It was sad to be saying goodbye to what will be life long friends, but it was also exciting getting home to implement and to share what we had learned through the experience. A huge thank you to Fadi, Ana, Sanita, MacKenzie, Jacob, Bill and all the incredibly inspiring women who are making such a dent…… (FYI: coining the phrase #makeadent #makingadent :)

blackbox Connect #15

Click here to view the companies that were selected: blackbox.vc

Google for Entrepreneurs Digital Health Exchange

OnSaturday the 21st, I flew to my second home, Nashville, Tennessee. Having spent seven years working in music, it was a great feeling returning to be part of Nashville’s other leading industry, healthcare. On Sunday 22nd the eight selected teams met at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. It was wonderful to finally get the opportunity to see and tour Nashville’s beautiful Entrepreneur Centre. An incredible environment, purpose built to inspire and invoke innovation.

The eight teams consisted of healthcare innovators from across the US and South America who were building companies to make real impact. Products included devices which stop IV dislodgement, a new breast cancer screening test and a digital health application which allows caregivers communicate and collaborate around their loved one’s care. They were all inspiring start-ups and equally inspiring teams.

The team at the Entrepreneur’s Centre managed to get some of the most senior influencers in not only Nashville’s healthcare industry, but in the US healthcare industry to come to the centre and meet us and share their knowledge. We had speakers from people like David Guth, CEO of Centerstone, Ed Cantwell from the Center for Medical InteroperabilitySean Sheppard from GrowthX, along with practical advisor sessions, where teams of industry leaders sat in rooms with us for hours, and helped us navigate different challenges.

One highlight was an evening spent at the Nashville Convention Centre. It was such an honour to meet the Commissioner of Health for Tennessee, Dr. John Dreyzehner, his wife Jana and the Tennessee Commissioner of Economic Growth and Community DevelopmentRandy Boyd. Dr. John Dreyzehner is definitely one of the most innovative leaders and thinkers in health that I have ever met.

The networking, knowledge and experience we gained during that week would have otherwise taken years to acquire. A truly incredible, fruitful and enlightening experience. We got to see all the highlights of Nashville and learn from the very best in the business. Thanks to the Nashville Entrepreneur Centre team, Kelli, Maggie, Heather, Sam, Jeremy, John and Julia for doing such an incredible job, and of course my peers on the programme for making it so enjoyable.

Photo by Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Companies at the Digital Health Exchange: Adrastia BiotechnologyLineGard MedTickerFitCare AdvisorHuli Health,Homeward HealthcareCarely,ScriptDrop

It has taken a few weeks for everything to sink in. How did everything align so perfectly? I got to be part of the very first Darkness Into Light San Francisco, share three inspiring weeks with some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, learning from the brightest minds, and of course, visit one of my most favourite places, Nashville, Tennessee.

One of my good friends once described our hearts as a puzzle. That every piece to complete the puzzle is out there on the road ahead. That road curves and bends, v’s and sometimes even dead ends. Those pieces are scattered, some flipped upside down, some visible from the road and some hidden. The road is lined with exits which invite us to turn off at any stage. While it can be much easier to pull over and take the exit, it is so much more worthwhile to keep moving forward, watching the pieces of the puzzle come together and fill the gaps. Eventually the picture will be complete. As for now, I’m still on the road, a few missing pieces still drawing me forward.

(Thanks Emilie Hester)

DOTS : CONNECTED

Ahuge thank you to Mary Grove & Genna McKeel from Google For Entrepreneurs, Liz McCarthy & Patrick Walsh from Dogpatch Labs, Google Ireland, blackbox, the Nashville Entrepreneurs Centre, Pieta House for all their incredible work and most importantly my wonderful Cofounder Greg Balmer who keeps it all going :)

 

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Leader's Questions and Answers in The Sunday Business Post

From flying cars to security breaches, Avril was recently asked to answer some questions for 'expert's corner' in The Sunday Business Post! 

Questions: 

  1. Twitter have locked some user accounts after hackers put login details on sale. What, in your opinion, should be done to prevent this kind of breach happening again?
  2. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, is said to be secretly developing flying cars. What are your thoughts on this technology and its uses for the future?
  3. The Gardai Siochana are undergoing a €205 million IT overhaul including new CCTV cameras and onboard computers to allow better surveillance of criminals. What is your opinion of this technology and its ability to aid police?
  4. Three Irish companies are the latest to receive millions in funding from the EU’s H2020 project for renewable energy.  What do you think will be the next innovation for renewable energy?
  5. Name one piece of technology you couldn’t live without.
  6. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a business starting out?

Answers: 

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Less then a week to go!

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Less then a week to go!

On July 11th, we will reach another way marker on the entrepreneurial journey when we get to pitch and showcase TickerFit to over 170 invited guests at Bloomberg HQ in London.

 
Pitching at the Irish Embassy with Ambassador Mulhall

Pitching at the Irish Embassy with Ambassador Mulhall

 

Recently we pitched at the Irish Embassy in London and from this event, were selected along with 7 other startups to pitch at this exciting event, organised by Bloomberg and the Irish International Business Network

We are truly excited about getting the opportunity and would like to thank the Irish International Business Network who do incredible work to support Irish businesses. 

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