Restored Hearing (www.restoredhearing.com), a company established by physics students from University College Dublin and the University of Edinburgh, is preparing to launch a series of clinical trials in Edinburgh to see if its 'sound therapy' for temporary tinnitus can be used to treat a more serious permanent 'ringing in the ears'.
The company, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up, is currently seeking to raise a €500,000 investment. The money will be used to develop the long term strategy for Restored Hearing's research and development aspirations into a cure for permanent tinnitus and for the development and sales of the company's hearing protection products.
Restored Hearing, an award winner on the NovaUCD 2010 Start-Up Programme (Campus Company Development Programme), has developed a sound therapy that can cure temporary tinnitus in 99% of cases.
Temporary tinnitus, or 'ringing in the ears', can be caused by exposure to loud music or working in a noisy environment. Ringing in the ears can last for several days and cause the sufferer severe irritation and discomfort.
The high-pitched sound is caused when loud noises flatten the tiny hairs inside the ear. The hairs then cause interference with one another, which the brain interprets as a 'phantom' noise. The Restored Hearing therapy works by playing low-frequency sounds into the ear, which makes the tiny hairs stand up again.
Restored Hearing began life as a secondary school project in 2007 at the Ursuline College in Sligo. Pupils Rhona Togher and Eimear O'Carroll, together with Physics teacher, Anthony Carolan, set about finding a solution to the problem of temporary tinnitus. The students won a prize at the 2009 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition with their research.
The company then located to NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures & Entrepreneurs, while it participated on the NovaUCD 2010 Campus Company Development Programme. The aim of this programme is to assist entrepreneurs in the establishment and development of knowledge-intensive enterprises to commercialise their innovative ideas. The programme assists participants to define and develop their innovative ideas and prepare a detailed business plan. The company was an award winner on the 2010 programme.
Rhona is currently on a 'year out' from her physics degree at University College Dublin and is CEO of the company. Eimear O'Carroll is currently a 4th year physics student at the University of Edinburgh. Together with Anthony Carolan, they are co-owners and directors of Restored Hearing.
Rhona Togher, CEO, Restored Hearing said, "Using sound, our therapy stimulates the inner ear to promote the re-straightening of the cochlear hairs that get bent or even broken when they are subjected to high intensity sound. When the cochlear hairs are bent over they interfere with each other and this interference is interpreted by the brain as sound, often in the complete absence of any sound. In 99% of cases the tinnitus of the sufferer was gone after one minute of our sound therapy."
She added, "We are currently fund raising to continue with our R&D activities aimed at investigating if our sound therapy for temporary tinnitus can be used to help people suffering from more permanent tinnitus and to develop and sell our hearing protection products."
Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise & Commercialisation said, "I am delighted to see that Restored Hearing, a UCD start-up award winner, is continuing with its commercial development and is seeking to close a funding round to further develop its product offerings." He added, "It is great to see an Irish start-up, established by talented undergraduate Irish students, establishing key links outside of Ireland, in this case with the University of Edinburgh."
Eimear is currently working with, LAUNCH.ed, the Edinburgh Research and Innovation's (ERI) student entrepreneurs business start-up programme at the University of Edinburgh.
Grant Wheeler, ERI's Head of Company Formation & Incubation, said, "Eimear is the latest in a long line of students who have successfully taken advantage of the award-winning support offered to the University's students by LAUNCH.ed. It is testament to Eimear's determination that Restored Hearing is now fundraising. It is a hugely important technology which promises benefits to so many people who suffer from this debilitating condition. LAUNCH.ed and the University will continue to provide Eimear with whatever support it can."