DIT Team Runners-Up in Student Enterprise Competition

Dublin, 6th June 2007: A team of DIT Product Design students finished Runners-Up at the finals of this year's Enterprise Ireland Student Enterprise Competition which took place today in the Royal College of Physicians. Third year students Stephen Banville, Christine Lynch, Eilis McNulty, Joseph O'Reilly and Thomas Wright qualified for the final of the prestigious competition with their innovation, the 'Electro-Plast', which is a medical device that accelerates the healing process of a wound by up to 60%. The team was coached by Barry Plunkett from the Faculty of Business and Arthur Henry from the Faculty of Engineering.

The Student Enterprise Competition, which is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI and Ulster Bank, is an all-island competition open to undergraduate and postgraduate students at Universities and Institutes of Technology alike. It is designed to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among third level students and to encourage them to realize their vision. According to Dr. Tom Cooney, DIT Faculty of Business, 'The competition encourages teamwork with students co-operating and pooling their knowledge to achieve a tangible result.' A total of 132 teams took part, with a team from CIT winning first prize for their electronic device that emits a gentle heat-beat rhythm and is placed under a mattress to comfort infants in their cots.

 The DIT team made it through to the All-Ireland finals of the competition against stiff competition to present their innovation to the judging panel. Their product, the 'Electro-plast', is designed to speed up the healing process of a wound by emitting a static electric field which draws cells to the skin membrane around the wound area. It is attached to a bandage or dressing using a multi layer adhesive which can be removed and reapplied each time the dressing is changed. According to the team, the device can result in a healing time improvement of between 50-60%. "When a person is injured or cut, a potential difference or voltage is set up across the wound area, creating an electric field. This electric field draws healing cells to the wound area and these bind to the live cells, accelerating the healing process. Medical experiments show that an electric field not only increases the speed of the healing cells (epithelial) to the wound area but also improves directional movement of the cells. This can be particularly beneficial to those patients for whom the healing time can be longest, such as the elderly and those with diabetes. The risk of infection to open wounds is also reduced." While the technology used in this device is relatively new in the area of area of medical science, the phenomenon of a naturally occurring electric field over a wound area was first discovered over 150 years ago.

The team says that their device is suitable for all surface injuries, where skin and/or surface tissue damage has occurred, and they add that an additional benefit is a possible reduction in scarring. "The speed at which a wound heals is believed to have a direct relationship with the level of scarring so by speeding up the process 'Electro-Plast' can contribute to reducing the scarring that remains after the would has healed."

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