Skip navigation

University College Dublin Logo

Advanced Search

UCD News

Nuacht UCD

Posted 29 June 2011

MuteButton to grow staff to 20 following €200,000 investment

Spin-out company Mutebutton has secured a €200,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland to accelerate large-scale clinical trials of its tinnitus treatment device, and grow its staff to 20 by 2013 as the device nears market release.

MuteButton was established in 2010 by Dr Ross O’Neill, as a spin-out company from the Hamilton Institute, NUI Maynooth where the technology, a novel medical device to successfully treat people suffering from permanent tinnitus, was originally developed by O’Neill, Dr Paul O’Grady, and Professor Barak Pearlmutter.

Pictured far right: Pictured at NovaUCD are Dr Keith O’Neill, Enterprise Ireland and Dr Ross O’Neill, MuteButton

The company has recently located to NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at University College Dublin, to develop collaborative partnerships with UCD researchers working on neurological conditions.

Tinnitus, commonly referred to as ‘ringing-in-the-ears’, is the perception of an illusory low-level sound in the absence of a corresponding external stimulus to the ear.

Temporary tinnitus, which can be caused by excess fluid or wax in the ear or short-term exposure to loud noises, can be cured. However, permanent tinnitus, which is caused by intense or prolonged exposure to noise, and which is often associated with hearing loss, cannot be cured. It can have a negative effect on the quality of life of sufferers and can lead to insomnia and depression. In addition no effective treatment for this form of tinnitus is currently available on the market.

MuteButton has developed a non-invasive (Class IIA) device which treats the effects of permanent tinnitus. The device, the size of an ipod or iphone, presents sound to the ear using normal headphones and simultaneously presents this sound as tactile patterns on the tongue using an intra-oral array.

This provides the brain with a multimodal basis for sound which allows neurological mechanisms within the brain to suppress the ‘ringing-in-the-ears’ of the sufferer for a period of hours.

“This investment by Enterprise Ireland marks a significant milestone for the company. It is another step towards the development of an effective treatment for a medical condition that is currently considered untreatable,” said Dr Ross O’Neill, CEO, MuteButton.

“Enterprise Ireland has been fantastic throughout the project, supporting it from the proof-of-concept phase within Maynooth University, through the technology transfer process, and into commercialisation within the company. They have been instrumental in every step along the way”.

“This investment will enable the company to carry out large scale clinical trials of the MuteButton device later this year with our clinical collaborator Mr Brendan Conlon, Surgical Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin,” he added.

Dr Keith O’Neill, Director, Life Science and Food Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland said: “Thanks to the ongoing commitment of Dr Ross O’Neill in bringing this technology to market, MuteButton now has the potential to make a real impact on the millions of people who suffer from tinnitus.  MuteButton is a great example of what can be achieved through commercialisation of research from Irish universities and we were delighted to award Dr O’Neill Enterprise Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ Award last year.”


MuteButton has developed an innovative tinnitus treatment that simultaneously presents sound to the senses of hearing and touch. The treatment provides a multimodal basis for sound discrimination to harness the inherent neurological mechanisms that suppress the perception of illusory sound.


NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre, is the hub of innovation and knowledge transfer activities at University College Dublin. NovaUCD is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from UCD research and for the development of co-operation with industry and business. NovaUCD as a purpose-built centre also nurtures high-tech and knowledge-intensive enterprises such as MuteButton. NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


>> More News and Events
<< Back to Home

Pictured far right: Pictured at NovaUCD are Dr Keith O’Neill, Enterprise Ireland and Dr Ross O’Neill, MuteButton
In the Media...
Share this story...