The latest data from NUI Galway’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem shows a strong performance for 2017. The year saw significant high-quality collaborative research and license agreements with industry, and a number of new spin-outs created on campus. A programme was established on campus to provide new business innovators with the supports needed to accelerate their medical technology inventions to the market. Over 1,500 staff and students were actively engaged in entrepreneurship through the University’s education and mentorship programmes, Blackstone Launchpad and Explore.
David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Office, said: “To maximise the impact of our research and expertise, NUI Galway puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, innovation and enterprise collaboration. Galway and the west of Ireland is a thriving and dynamic place for enterprise and entrepreneurs. With a student body of over 18,000, immense research outputs, and an annual research income of over €50 million, our University plays a crucial role in underpinning this ecosystem.”
This year’s new spin-outs bring the number of campus-based companies to 34, including other spin-outs and local companies who are based on campus. Two of the new enterprises created on campus this year have the potential to benefit society through novel medical devices and diagnostics technologies: Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, which originates from the BioInnovate Programme and is set to commercialise an innovative orthopaedic thumb implant; and Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd, emanates from the research of Drs Tom Barry and Kate Reddington from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Microbiology, and has been established to commercialise novel nucleic acid diagnostics technologies for the detection and identification of microbial contaminants associated with the environmental and industrial sectors.
NUI Galway provides business supports and excellent facilities including laboratories and co-working spaces to support research and collaborative innovation. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This community of entrepreneurs is creating jobs and attracting investment, and the calibre of spin out’s from NUI Galway is testament to the high level of research taking place on campus, which is good for the region.”
The Business Innovation Centre is very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grants with four client companies already being successful in 2017 with many more progressing in 2018. Two successful companies in 2017 include: NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health, which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was given funding of €2.5 million by the EU in 2017; and DiaNia Technologies, a start-up who received over €2.5 million in Horizon 2020 funding. Cresco, who specialise in securing international grants and funding for technology-based clients have also established a presence on campus to support these activities.
NUI Galway-based entrepreneurs attracting significant attention this year with a number of them receiving accolades include:
Dr Brendan Boland, BioInnovate fellow and CEO of NUI Galway spin-out, Loci Orthopaedics, who was the recipient of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the ‘Best New Idea’ category. The company was also the winner of the start-up contest at this year’s Medtech Ireland conference in Galway in October.
AuriGen Medical and Loci Orthopaedics were winners in the EIT Health: UK-Ireland HeadStart/Proof-of-Concept Awards.
Sarah Loughney, CEO and Founder of Kite Medical was selected by The HealthTech Venture Network as their 2017’s ELEVATE pitch competition winner in Boston.
Orreco and Channel Mechanics scooped the IT Association of Galway awards in 2017.
NUI Galway Research centres and programmes are also gaining recognition for their contribution to innovation with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices winning the top award for Academic Contribution to Medtech at the recent Irish Medtech Associations Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards ceremony.
In recent years, the University has put a particular focus on innovation. In 2017, it saw the launch of Ireland’s first medtech accelerator, BioExel, which will significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer in an intensive six-month period. January 2018 will see the first cohort of companies based on campus working with BioExel.
BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced Medtech team at NUI Galway.
2017 also marked the seventh year of BioInnovate, the medtech fellowship programme on campus which has resulted in three high-potential spin-outs, with two more in the final negotiation stages and a healthy pipeline of further companies expected. In total, the companies have attracted almost €14 million in a first round of investments.
Among NUI Galway staff and students, entrepreneurship is also encouraged and supported at every level. The University’s Blackstone Launchpad is a multi-award winning entrepreneurship programme for staff, students, and alumni at NUI Galway. Since 2016, LaunchPad has supported over 4,500 students, coached over 1,500 sessions, and awarded over €40,000 in funding to support student ventures. In 2017, Coachbook, a student enterprise created, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year award.