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Back to Press Releases 11 October 2018

Laois student designs AR trophy for international start-up programme

  • ESB challenged Irish design students to create bespoke trophy for international start-up competition, Free Electrons 2018
  • Limerick company also selected as participant in global start-up programme

9th October 2018

A County Laois design student has created a bespoke augmented reality (AR) trophy that was presented at an international clean-tech start-up programme in Berlin last Friday (October 5th).

The design by Diarmuid Farrell was presented to the winner of Free Electrons 2018, an international accelerator programme for start-ups in the clean-tech energy space. ESB is one of the nine global utilities that is part of the programme to support entrepreneurs and start-ups to transform the energy market with next generation ideas.  

Earlier this year, ESB challenged Irish design students to create an innovative trophy for the competition final. Diarmuid – a third year student at the National College of Art and Design – created the trophy from one piece of folded sheet metal.

Speaking about the concept of the design, Diarmuid Farrell says: “The trophy is based on the idea of the big energy companies and small start-ups working together and using innovative new technologies to create clean energy. I feel the augmented reality aspect of the trophy reflects that innovation. I feel very privileged to be part of such an inspiring project. It's really amazing to see all of the work that the start-ups are doing in the area of sustainability.”

The AR aspect works by using image targets which a phone can read and can project the digital elements in real time. 

Irish start-up – GridWatch Mac – was selected as one of the final 15 global companies to participate in the programme. The Limerick-based electronics and software company provides smart data monitoring for energy utilities.

During the six month programme, GridWatch worked with the global utilities, including ESB, to refine and test their product with the potential to reach 73 million customers. The winner of the programme - SOLshare from Bangladesh - also received $200,000 in prize money.

Congratulating Diarmuid and Gridwatch, Jerry O’Sullivan, Deputy Chief Executive at ESB, said: “Innovation is at the very heart of what we do at ESB and we strive to explore and invest in creative ideas and people that will, in turn, benefit our customers. As a founding partner of the Free Electrons programme, we are excited and proud that Diarmuid’s inspiring design took centre stage at the event and his obvious talent was showcased. We congratulate GridWatch on being selected as a finalist, a marvellous achievement considering that more than 500 start-ups applied to participate in this programme.”

ESB hosted the final in 2017 and continues to work with a number of the finalists to enhance their products. This includes Climote, the home heating control specialists and Driivz, the e-mobility experts. ESB is also trialling products with solar designers HST Solar, smart grid experts Depsys and the 2017 winner BEON which specialises in residential solar products.


Picture is Diarmuid Farrell with his award winning design for the Free Electrons programme. 

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