Roscommon Town woman Rhona Hunt is one of the finalists in the AIB Irish Times Start-up Academy thanks to an innovative medical product which could prove life-changing for stoma patients.
Rhona and her co-founder Kevin Kelleher are behind the company Ostoform which is one of the finalists in the AIB Irish Times Start-up Academy. More than 450 applications were whittled down to 22, then to the final 14 start-up companies who are now taking part in the eight-week accelerator programme.
The programme aims to develop these companies, providing an opportunity to network and learn from entrepreneurs, industry experts and each other in their weekly mentoring and training programme.
At the end of their eight weeks they will pitch to a judging panel at the final in order to try to win the prize worth €200,000 to their business.
Rhona is a daughter of Martin and Majella Hunt from Ardsallagh Mor, Roscommon Town.
Rhona and her co-founder Kevin took part in a programme called BioInnovate, which gave them access to hospitals to identify unmet clinical needs. Skin complications for people with ileostomies was a problem that kept coming up as they spoke to clinicians, so they started brainstorming solutions. (An ileostomy is where the small bowel is diverted through an opening in the abdomen and this opening is known as a stoma. A special bag is placed over it to collect waste products.)
Often, people suffer from skin complications as a result of output from their stoma leaking on to their skin. This device prevents the output from the ileostomy leaking on to the patient’s skin, keeping the patient’s skin healthy and giving the patient confidence. They did some patient studies in the University of Limerick and the patient feedback and clinical outcomes were very encouraging, so Ostoform was founded. They are still pre-revenue, and raising investment in order to get set up with an efficient manufacturing process. They plan to launch in the first quarter of 2018.