Irish women awarded top EU innovator prizes

7 Dec 2022

Dr Ciara Clancy (second from left) with her EU Prize for Women Innovators. Image: EIC/Twitter

Dr Ciara Clancy and Niamh Donnelly were among the six winners at the EIC’s awards for women innovators.

Irish entrepreneurs have once again come out on top at an EU ceremony celebrating innovative women founders.

The winners of this year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators were announced by European commissioner Mariya Gabriel during the two-day summit of the European Innovation Council.

Dr Ciara Clancy, founder and CEO of Beats Therapeutics, was one of three winners of the main Women Innovators award.

Beats Therapeutics is developing technology to help people with Parkinson’s disease to assess and manage their mobility symptoms.

Clancy trained as a physiotherapist but moved into medtech a decade ago when she started the company. She has been recognised for her innovations before, being named Cartier Women’s Initiative laureate in 2015 and Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2017.

Clancy was among eight finalists for the Women Innovators prize, which recognises entrepreneurs who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market.

Two other entrepreneurs were awarded alongside her: Rocío Arroyo from Spanish biotech Amadix, which develops diagnostic tools for cancer; and Dr Ninna Granucci from French food-tech business Green Spot Technologies, which converts food processing by-products into a highly nutritious powder.

Five women stand on a stage, three of whom are holding awards. Niamh Donnelly, in the centre next to EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel, is smiling.

Niamh Donnelly (centre) with her Rising Innovators Award. Image: EIC/Twitter

Also awarded at the ceremony was Irishwoman Niamh Donnelly, co-founder and chief robotics officer at Dublin start-up Akara Robotics.

Donnelly was among three winners in the Rising Innovators category, which recognises entrepreneurs under 35. This award was established to celebrate the European Year of Youth.

Trinity spin-out Akara has focused on developing AI and robots for the healthcare sector, making a mark with social care robot Stevie and disinfection robot Violet. Donnelly has a key role to play when it comes to the tech and AI behind these robots, which are being tested in Ireland and beyond.

There were six finalists for the Rising Innovators prize and three winners. Iva Gumnishka, founder and CEO of Bulgarian social enterprise Humans in the Loop, and Dr Mehak Mumtaz, co-founder and COO of Portuguese AI drug discovery paltform iLoF, were also awarded the prize.

Clancy received a cash prize of €100,000 with her award while Donnelly received €50,000.

Last year, a third of the entrepreneurs nominated for the finals were from Ireland. In the end, Irish sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane – the founders of Izzy Wheels – took home the title of rising innovator and a prize of €50,000.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.