Better sleep, an internet therapy for insomnia received the 2017 UI Applied Science Prize. Three other projects were also rewarded as well. The prize money is a total of 4 million ISK.
This was the twentieth time that the prize was presented. The aim of the prize is to bring out utilizable ideas from students and staff at the University of Iceland and affiliated institutes. Diverse projects from different fields of study have in recent years received a prize and this year is no exception.
A total of 23 ideas were entered into the competition and the choice of the award-winning projects was in the hands of a special selection committee. The committee’s criteria included how quickly the proposal could be utilised; whether the proposal was in sync with the University’s policies and operations; its originality, and how beneficial it would be for Icelandic society.
The first prize in the amount of two million Icelandic krona went to the project Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia among clients of the national health services - results of treatment and the impact of prescription sleeping medicine. Erla Björnsdóttir, post-doc at the Faculty of Medicine, leads the project but her collaborators are Tinna Karen Árnadóttir, a medical doctor at the National health care, Hálfdan Steinþórsson, managing director of Betri svefn (better sleep), and Petra Lind Sigurðardóttir, psychologist.
The project revolves around the website www.betrisvefn.is (in Icelandic). The website contains information on sleep and sleeping habits as well as distance treatment for insomnia. Sleep problems have become very common but the consequences can be dire for people's health and thus costly for both individuals and the community. The use of sleep medicine is higher in Iceland than in any of the Nordic countries, but its use for prolonged periods of time is considered unhealthy and the World Health Organization recommends that medicine not be the first resort for sleep problems. However, research has shown that cognitive behavioural therapy has proven useful as a treatment resource for sleep deprivation.
The second price in the amount of one million krona went to the project Skynbelti (e. sensory belt). The project revolves around designing a belt intended to help those who do not have senses such as sight or hearing. Behind the project is an interdisciplinary group from within and outside of the University of Iceland.
Two projects shared the third prize and the organizers of each group received 500 thousand krona. One of the projects is called Næring móður og barns (mother and baby's nourishment) which goes beyond traditional recommendations based on general dissemination of information thus fulfilling a need for service that is not yet available in the Icelandic health services. The other one was TARASÓL - þróun sólarverjandi efna úr þörungum, (e. development of sunblocking material from algae); i.e. developing a new sunscreen that is both safe and contains no harmful material.
The UI Applied Science Prize is a collaboration of the University of Iceland, Árnason| actor, and Innovation Center Iceland, which additionally offers its specialist consultation to the winners as well as being on the evaluation committee.