Digital & Innovation

VR solution for neurodegenerative disorders wins Biogen eChallenge accolade

Health Industry Hub | December 2, 2020 |
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Digital & Innovation: Neuro Hero, a team that is developing solutions to tackle neurodegenerative disorders using virtual reality technology, has taken top spot in this year’s Biogen and Australian eChallenge

Social enterprise Neuro Hero is run by 19-year-old Harry Spurrier who is in the second year of studying for a Bachelor of Psychology at the University of Adelaide. His goal is to improve the lives of teenagers with debilitating neurodegenerative disorders such as motor neuron disease and muscular dystrophy. 

“Thousands of teenagers and young adults in Australia are suffering from these diseases, creating a set of unique and difficult challenges that limit their ability to complete the most basic of tasks,” said Harry. 

“It is difficult to navigate through adolescence for a healthy teen, and with a neurodegenerative disorder, an already confusing period becomes even more complicated, leading to a lack of drive, enthusiasm and ambition.” 

Neuro Hero aims to incorporate proven therapeutic aspects of virtual reality, video games and at-home sustainable agriculture in order to give purpose to those suffering from these conditions. 

“A virtual garden would act as a hub inside a virtual reality game in which participants can play minigames that will, in turn, correlate to growing produce in the hub,” said Harry.  

“The produce from the virtual garden will then correlate to the real world where the people can opt into growing produce in their own homes and gardens based on the work done in the virtual garden, which can then be sold. 

“Through this, the teenagers and young adults suffering these debilitating conditions have the opportunity to have real impact on their community and bringing a sense of purpose and belonging to their early adulthood.” 

Harry’s concepts, which were presented to the eChallenge judges during the competition, have won him the Biogen overall prize of $10,000. 

The Australian eChallenge is an annual competition-based learning experience that develops strategic business thinking for early-stage entrepreneurial ventures. Run since 2001 by the University of Adelaide’s Adelaide Business School, the pre-accelerator program is a proving ground for future entrepreneurs. It is Australia’s longest running program of its kind. 

Professor Noel Lindsay is Pro-Vice Chancellor – Entrepreneurship, and Dean of Business – Adelaide Business School at the University of Adelaide. 

“The Australian eChallenge introduces young innovative entrepreneurs to the vibrant entrepreneurial community in South Australia,” said Professor Lindsay. 

“The business leaders of the future use this unique and intensive innovation program as a springboard for their innovative ideas which could potentially impact lives worldwide 

“They are supported and guided by experienced business people during the eChallenge which stretches them to find solutions for society’s challenges.” 

Forty-nine teams, consisting of 180 participants, took part in this year’s competition. Competition streams include the general category and Biogen eChallenge. Winners were announced on Tuesday 1 December.

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