Trinity, Teagasc and UCD win big at KTI Impact Awards 2022

2 Dec 2022

From left: MC Kathriona Devereux, with Joe Healy and Imelda Lambkin of Enterprise Ireland. Image: KTI

The annual awards from Knowledge Transfer Ireland recognise innovation and collaboration in bringing public-funded research to the commercial space.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Teagasc and University College Dublin (UCD) were recognised at the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards 2022 for their role helping produce commercial impact from academic research.

Now in its ninth year, the annual KTI Impact Awards recognise the work of higher education innovation offices across three categories: commercialisation impact, industry engagement and a ‘future forward’ category introduced last year.

TCD and spin-out SilverCloud Health bagged the commercialisation impact award.

Founded in 2012, SilverCloud has developed a digital platform for mental health services. It raised $16m in Series B funding in April 2020 and was acquired by US telehealth company Amwell a year later.

SilverCloud now employs more than 175 people across the world – almost half of whom are based in Ireland. The company plans to launch 15 new apps this year.

The award for industry engagement went to Teagasc, Independent Milk Laboratories, FBA Laboratories and Kerry Group.

Over the last two years, this group has worked together to build testing that aims to safeguard milk products used in dairy-based infant formula and reduce waste in the production process.

As the sole Irish provider of accredited chlorate testing, Teagasc worked with the companies to establish new analytical laboratories and provided training to staff in operation of equipment, test methods and data analysis.

Meanwhile, the future forward award – geared towards more early-stage activity with potential for future impact – was taken home by UCD and deep-tech spin-out PlasmaBound.

Founded in 2017 by Dr James Nicholas Barry, Alan Barry and Xavier Montibert, PlasmaBound has developed tech that aims to take the use of recyclable composite materials into the mainstream.

The NovaUCD-based start-up specialises in controlled polymer ablation tech, which could speed up the manufacture of renewable lightweight materials with increased reliability. These can be used in everything from vehicles and devices to physical structures, reducing carbon output and waste.

PlasmaBound recently became one of five start-ups from around the world to win a challenge to collaborate and innovate with Hyundai and Kia.

“With solutions to address immediate health, social and environmental concerns, it is very welcome to see both revenue and job creation as a result of public-funded research commercialisation and collaboration,” said Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary, TD.

“Companies that are active in research, development and innovation are shown to perform better than their peers, and I would encourage businesses to consider collaboration with public research as a means to enhance their offering.”

An additional people’s choice award went to TCD and ProVerum at the KTI event last night (1 December). This Irish medtech spin-out is developing a medical device to assist with benign prostatic hyperplasia – a common bladder condition in men over 50.

“It is important to pay particular credit to the work of the technology transfer offices around the country who provide the vital link and support structure so knowledge transfer can deliver meaningful outcomes to society,” said Enterprise Ireland’s Imelda Lambkin, who chaired the judging panel.

“The teams in these offices around the country are key to the successes being celebrated by the KTI Impact Awards.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic