Nova Leah and UCD among winners at this year’s KTI Impact Awards

22 Nov 2019

From left: Clare Dillon and Dr Alison Campbell. Image: Knowledge Transfer Ireland

Knowledge Transfer Ireland recognised research that is benefiting the Irish economy and society at last night’s Impact Awards.

On Thursday (21 November), the winners of this year’s Impact Awards were announced at a ceremony held by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI).

The winning entries, from research-performing organisations around Ireland, were recognised for their achievements in the successful commercialisation of publicly funded research for the benefit of the Irish economy and society.

The ceremony was attended by guests from technology transfer offices, academia and industry, as well as investors and the wider business community. There was also a keynote speech delivered by former Microsoft executive and tech evangelist Clare Dillon.

The winners

University College Dublin (UCD) and Glanbia won the Collaborative Research Impact Award for their work, which led to the establishment of a facility in Tipperary to transform dairy waste products into high-value bio-based products including biodegradable plastics, bio-based fertilisers and minerals for human nutrition.

The Consultancy Impact Award was won by University College Cork (UCC) and Abbott Nutrition Ireland for their work to improve the manufacturing process of its instant milk formula and the product itself.

UCD also won the Licence2Market Impact Award for its work with Atlantic Therapeutics for the licensing of an externally worn electrical muscle stimulator to treat stress urinary incontinence.

Cybersecurity firm Nova Leah, which is a spin-out of Dundalk Institute of Technology that provides platform and software tools to the medical device sector, won the Spin-out Company Award.

Meanwhile, this year’s Knowledge Transfer Achiever of the Year Award was presented to Fiona Neary, innovation operations manager and BioExcel Accelerator commercial lead at NUI Galway, and Anthony Morrissey, commercialisation case manager at UCC, for their exceptionally high performance in their respective roles.

There was also a special commendation paid to Anu Sahni, computing lecturer and technology transfer case manager at the National College of Ireland, for her contribution to knowledge transfer at the institute.

All of the shortlisted entries were evaluated by a panel of international experts that included CEO of PraxiAuril Maxine Ficarra; US patent attorney and director at the US-based knowledge transfer association AUTM, Holly Wales Meadows; and Eavan O’Brien, assistant director for impact and partnerships at the Irish Research Council.

‘Exemplars of best practice’

Speaking at the event, John Halligan, TD, said: “The Irish government has invested significantly in the country’s research and innovation capacity over the last 20 years and this long-term commitment has resulted in a strong ecosystem to support research commercialisation that is respected in Europe and beyond.

“It is critical that publicly funded research is put to work, boosting business productivity and competitiveness and generating growth and jobs. The winners of this year’s Impact Awards are exemplars of best practice in this regard, demonstrating how innovation, in a practical and effective way, can benefit the economy and wider society.”

Dr Alison Campbell, KTI director and chair of the judging panel at the Impact Awards, added: “The EU’s Innovation Scoreboard classifies Ireland as a ‘strong innovator’ with our performance ranking favourably among our EU peers.

“Tonight’s awards recognise and pay tribute to the work of those on the ground nationwide in Ireland’s technology transfer offices who actually make this innovation happen, acting as a vital link between industry and academia.

“They provide the information to companies, support and manage the processes that allow commercialisation and collaboration to flourish, freeing up researchers and businesses to get on with the business of innovating.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic