Sunday 24 March 2019

Tech investor to launch 'bespoke social network' for dyslexic children

Tech investor Brendan Morrissey is to launch a
Tech investor Brendan Morrissey is to launch a "bespoke social network" for children and teenagers with dyslexia and ADHD. Stock Image

Fearghal O'Connor

Tech investor Brendan Morrissey is to launch a "bespoke social network" for children and teenagers with dyslexia and ADHD.

Kilkenny-based Morrissey, who has a €300m venture capital fund with a range of tech investments, has partnered with the Irish Dyslexic Association and plans similar tie-ins with dyslexia associations around the world.

"One in 10 children suffer with a learning disorder so the market is enormous," said Morrissey. "On average, three children in every classroom are dyslexic."

Morrissey, who originally achieved success with 1990s rock band My Little Funhouse, said he built iDyslexic to help his son with his education.

"I left school at 15 to work with my dad because of my dyslexia. I went on to become a musician because there was no academic path. You find your way through it and discover what you love. For me, that was music," he said.

The key aim of the network is "to let children know they are not alone", he added.

"Dealing with the stigma of their condition daily is such a struggle. We're building a community to surround them with the people who love and support them. With geometrics they can see other iDyslexic users to connect and build friendships with.

"For the family it connects them with other parents in the same position. For the school it will save time and possibly classes if they can control homework and daily tasks."

Morrissey is a shareholder at eSchools, one of the UK's leading e-learning platforms, and at Wonde, which he described as Europe's "fastest-growing ed tech [educational technology] company."

"So that's our route to market. Wonde operates in half of the UK's schools. By mid-2019 we will operate in 95pc of schools." The platform is expected to go live globally at the end of September and will cost €19.99 per year for families. Morrissey said this was to cover costs and it was a not-for-profit venture.

"It's a sizable investment but there's a purpose beyond profit with some of my education projects. The apps will be free to use, but to upgrade and create a secure portal we have to charge to cover administration costs. I'm focusing on building tech that will assist people and make their lives better. We're currently working on projects for autism, Alzheimer's, cancer and a platform for the homeless," he said.

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