February 2012: A change of direction

A change of direction

In the summer of 2011 my blog stopped appearing, my Facebook stopped posting and my Twitter stopped tweeting. There are lots of reasons for this, the main one was my intense focus on an incredible opportunity that I had to grab with both hands.

Research & Hope has always been a labour of love. I poured my heart and soul into creating the website and I am just as passionate about my ‘baby’ as I was at the start. However, I also poured every penny I had into it (and quite a few I didn’t have!). So I spent several months searching for ways to make it financially sustainable.

My first encounter with NDRC

I phoned and met everyone I could think of in every arena from the commercial to the charitable. I frequently met with praise and critical acclaim, followed by a swift apology that there would be no funding. That all changed when I went to the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) and spoke to one of their project directors Mark Kearns.

At first he gave me a similar response. But then he paused… “What else do you have?” he asked. I began to explain numerous ideas I had been working through; although I had been thinking of these as ‘phase two’: things to work on after Research & Hope had become self-sustaining. With the gifts of lateral thinking and insight typical of NDRC, Mark started to unpick one of my ideas: an app to help people with aphasia and word finding difficulties.  “This sounds more like something we can work with,” he said, and he advised me to download an application form for LaunchPad, a three-month accelerator programme for technology based start-ups: http://www.ndrc.ie/launchpad/

LaunchPad

I found a talented partner and together we filled in forms, pitched our ideas, and won a place on the LaunchPad programme. It began in September 2011 and it has been a phenomenal experience. We have been mentored by experts; talked to by entrepreneurs in every field; trained by professionals; and really looked after by an intensely knowledgeable and compassionate staff.

We have now succeeded in creating apps and videos for families living with speech and language difficulties. We are now creating more apps to help people with cognitive challenges that often accompany stroke, dementia and brain injury. Neuro Hero offers people like my husband, Steve, the possibility of communicating with the outside world again. It offers family caregivers a chance to grab a few moments to themselves while friends and family interact with their loved ones. You can see the results of our work here: http://www.neurohero.com/

Moving forward

I now have an incredible team around me and we are still here being looked after by our mentors in the NDRC. We have accomplished so much since 2011. We are producing supports for people with chronic illness, we have just re-launched Carers’ Sanctuary online magazine for family caregivers. Finally I am returning to work on Research & Hope which is being updated and revamped as I write

Although I have had to change direction from time to time I am so glad that I can once again work on all three of the projects that I hope will help to make life a little easier for those living with life changing conditions.

 

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Neuro Hero        Neuro Hero Blog        Research and Hope        Carers’ Sanctuary magazine

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