Issue date: 26 July 2012
Inventor Lorna Perks has just won top prize worth £200,000 in the Orange Different Business competition with her idea for Pillpod. The Pillpod will only dispense the right medication at the right time and will advise patients in simple language how to take it correctly. With Pillpod, the patient will know what pills they need to take and as importantly, how they should take them, for example with food.
Lorna came up with the idea when faced with following a complicated regime of medication during her treatment for breast cancer two years ago. Her first-hand experience of the need to take lots of pills after chemotherapy sessions and difficulty of thinking clearly in that situation was reinforced by talking to many other people and realising that they too were struggling to manage their own medication.
Lorna said, "The Pillpod enables patients on a cocktail of medications to take them safely, properly and on time. The device also reminds patients to take other non-tablet medications such as pessaries, suppositories and eye drops. It is a completely different dispenser from anything else on the market, and will provide particularly valuable help for elderly and some disabled people. Taking a lot of medication can be quite confusing and that can lead people to accidentally taking it wrongly."
In drawing up her detailed business plan for Pillpod, Lorna worked with Enterprise Advisers from UWE Bristol. UWE students are helping with the software and design of Pillpod, under the leadership of Dr Stewart Green, senior lecturer in Computer Science and Creative Technologies. In addition the South West Biomedical iNet, led by UWE, has provided domain and financial support.
Jill Burnett, UWE's Enterprise Manager said, “Lorna has demonstrated great commitment to bringing Pillpod to market. We are particularly delighted that UWE connectivity played a part in propelling Lorna through the public vote.”
A shortlist of ten of the UK's best ideas was drawn up by an expert judging panel including John Illman, former chairman of the Medical Journalists Association and Trevor Baylis OBE, inventor of the wind-up radio, prior to a vote by the public for their favorite idea. All the finalists were chosen for their innovation, passion and commitment from 140 entrants who submitted business plans for the competition, which aims to showcase some of the most exciting business ideas in the UK.
The top prize won by Lorna is a package of business support worth up to £200,000, including business advice from accountancy firm Kingston Smith; communications support from Orange; marketing consultancy from Publicis Chemistry, legal advice from corporate and commercial law firm Lewis Silkin and mentoring from Mike Southon, co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur, mentor and business speaker.
Lorna used to work in IT, marketing and sales but had always had ideas about potential inventions. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer she had no idea it would lead to a change of career. The device is yet to be produced, but has the capability of linking with the NHS and pharmacies so that information about each different pill and when it should be taken can be programmed for each patient. This award should certainly pave the way.
For more information on the South West Biomedical iNet see http://www.inets-sw.co.uk/biomedical/