History happening now

John ODriscoll 1

It’s not often that one gets the feeling of being in the midst of history being made. Sure, I’ve been to sporting moments such as world cup finals, and political landmarks like protests at the Kremlin. But this week I met the brilliant James O’ Driscoll whose tech inventions can change lives. Here’s my story published globally that touches on just one of those.

The microscope of world innovation is focussed on Brisbane this week, and funnily enough it’s an Irishman who may be Australia’s brightest hope of having the next great idea.

Brisbane’s James O’ Driscoll, 33, an engineering graduate of University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, survived the ruthless culling of 6,000 applicants from 135 countries to be invited to the annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

It starts this week (March 26-31) at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. He’s among 120 entrepreneurs from 35 countries who will spend six days developing a fully-fledged start-up from concept to investment pitch.

James was interviewed for the event by bootcamp alumni Yen Pei Tay, the founder of a start-up that last month was named among the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2017. It was listed alongside global tech goliaths like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Netflix.

The innovation that James will present seeks to prevent heat stroke, and so reduce the 14 fatalities in ten years in Australia, and the $6.9 billion in annual productivity loss.

It’s an App that, together with an arm patch the size of a band aid, can monitor individuals and share the supervision with colleagues and back to base. He’s not aware of any equivalent in the world. It will change the way we work.

“It’s particularly relevant for Australia with its huge and remote heat-stressed regions, and will become even more relevant as extreme weather events become more prevalent in Australia,” James said.

Bootcamp speakers include Australian entrepreneurs Scott Hutchinson of Hutchinson Builders and Denis Wagner of construction company Wagners, and Boston angel investor Waikit Lau. Lau has grown two start-ups to successful exits, one acquired for $100 million.

For the past five years, James has lived in Brisbane where he runs his data science technology business Construct Agility. His efficiency driven outcomes are often simple, low-key solutions that connect the data across a business.

James was born in Lyre in County Cork, where his parents Donal and Mary still reside. Mary’s cousin is Ireland’s legendary Melbourne Cup winning jockey Mick Kinane. The family has lived in the same area “forever”, James says, which is as far back as records can show. “As far as she (Aunt Joan) knows there is no one famous from the area,” he added. James just might be the first.

For over 150 years, MIT has been a leader in global research. Just last year, MIT in collaboration with others made the first direct detection of Einstein’s previously fabled gravitational waves.

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