UCC and IPIC spin-out BioPixS to harness power of photonic phantoms

18 Sep 2020

From left: Rich Ferrie, director of UCC Innovation; Myriam Cronin, head of Gateway UCC; Paul Townsend, head of Tyndall Photonics Centre; and Sanathana Konugolu Venkata Sekar, BioPixS CEO. Image: UCC

BioPixS will draw on the science of light to help develop biomedical devices and reduce animal testing in preclinical trials.

University College Cork (UCC) Innovation and the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) have announced the launch of a new spin-out company called BioPixS. The goal of the company is to translate cutting-edge research into “innovative solutions to impact the biophotonics market”.

IPIC is the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for photonics. It is led out of the Tyndall National Institute, a European hub for research in ICT hardware and systems based at UCC.

Photonics is the science of light and involves generating, controlling and detecting particles of light through technology. This allows researchers to study “the universe, cure diseases and even solve crimes”, according to BioPixS.

Biophotonics seeks to apply light-based technologies to life sciences and medicine. BioPixS hopes to create standards in the field through ‘phantoms’, which simulate light interaction in body tissue.

BioPixS was a participant in the Gateway UCC Sprint accelerator programme and was part of a consortium recently selected for European Commission emergency funding for research related to Covid-19. The spin-out is part of the Vascovid project, which is working on a portable platform for assessing microvascular health in Covid-19 patients in intensive care.

In general, the company said that its commercial products will reduce the time and costs associated with creating sophisticated biomedical devices in photonics. It also hopes to reduce the number of animals used in preclinical trials.

Dr Sanathana Konugolu Venkata Sekar, a senior researcher at Tyndall, is the CEO of BioPixS. He explained that the company’s “commercially unique” phantoms “mimic the optical properties of tissue to create a standardised approach”.

“Our mission to be a one-stop solution for all biophotonics standardisation needs will spur innovation and fast-track the next generation of biomedical tools to benefit society,’’ he said.

Prof Anita Maguire, vice-president of research and innovation at UCC, added that tech driven by BioPixS will “accelerate instrument development and monitor day-to-day performance of devices”. BioPixS is the most recent of 35 spin-out companies at UCC since 2007, she said.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021