New €4.7m hub to ‘unlock potential’ in Ireland’s digital health sector

28 May 2021

Image: Ciara Wilkinson

The DkIT hub aims to drive collaboration between researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs, and create a cluster of digital health enterprises.

A new innovation hub aims to help Ireland become a major player in the area of digital health.

The €4.7m dConnect digital health and innovation hub at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) will provide a range of supports for start-ups and SMEs. This will include mentorship, networking, regulatory or technical consultation, and commercialisation of research.

It will have a focus on developing the indigenous tech sector and also plans to collaborate with larger businesses and investors to provide access to innovation and partnership opportunities.

‘Ireland is perfectly positioned to become a major player in the new era of digitalised healthcare’

“DkIT has a longstanding reputation for leadership in healthcare, digital health and regulated software, and we look forward on building on these competencies through the formation of dConnect,” said Dr Michael Mulvey, president of DkIT.

“Working together with industry and Government partners, dConnect has an opportunity to develop and grow a world-leading cluster of digital health enterprises that can generate huge economic and societal benefits for our region and beyond.”

The dConnect team includes four professionals with expertise across digital health, early-stage investment, software development and entrepreneurship. The hub is led by Angela Duffy, director of programmes and business development, who was previously a venture investment leader at NDRC.

“Ireland has a strong track record in medtech, life science and pharma and with a substantial presence of tech giants here it is perfectly positioned to become a major player in the new era of digitalised healthcare,” Duffy said.

“dConnect will harness this expertise by driving collaboration with researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and corporations to deliver cutting-edge innovation that will unlock untapped potential within the sector.”

The hub is supported by €3.7m in funding from the Enterprise Ireland Regional Enterprise Development Fund. Additional financing was secured from DkIT, Louth County Council, sports-tech company StatSports and other partners.

StatSports CEO Seán O’Connor grew his GPS player tracking business from DkIT’s Regional Development Centre. He said the dConnect initiative could provide the type of engagement and support that is essential for growing businesses.

“[It] is about bringing the best minds, ideas, concepts and technology into one place,” O’Connor added. “We see this as the perfect blend of research, collaboration and commercial drive which is required to have a positive impact on digital health in both Ireland and beyond.”

Another industry initiative was launched at DkIT earlier this year – this one with the aim of helping businesses in the region explore renewable energy and other technologies.

With funding from Enterprise Ireland, the CREDIT Technology Gateway is focused on energy efficiency and optimisation and will look at how companies can make products and manufacturing operations as energy efficient as possible.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic