The Innovation Award

Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll’s entrepreneurial journey started when they were just 15 years old. A shared love of music bonded the pair, though being exposed to a high level of noise at concerts left them both suffering from tinnitus (the ‘ringing in your ears’ sensation). With necessity being the mother of invention, the duo created a sound therapy solution to provide relief for tinnitus. They presented their idea at the BT Young Scientist in 2009 and it earned them instant acclaim, prompting them to turn their project into a business.
Now fully qualified physicists, their start-up Lios has two core products, Sound Relief tinnitus sound therapy (available through a mobile app) and Sound Bounce hearing protection, which is a breakthrough “acoustic metamaterial” that reduces the force of low-frequency noises that can be used across industries like construction, automotive, aerospace, and home appliances. The pair were quick to file patents and secure funding for their start-up – in 2019, they were awarded €2.3 million through the competitive EU Horizon SME programme. In 2020, Lios partnered with the European Space Agency to develop Sound Bounce for use in space transportation technology. Most recently, the pair were honoured at the prestigious European Inventor Awards in July for the creation of SoundBounce. Accepting the award, they emphasised the importance of “inspiring others, especially young girls, to pursue their own inventions and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible”.

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