NUIG and Intel among winners at this year’s KTI Impact Awards

27 Nov 2020

Director and chair of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, Dr Alison Campbell. Image: Maxwells

Irish universities and companies were recognised for their work at this year’s Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards.

This year’s Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards, held virtually due to Covid-19, saw more than 170 people from technology transfer offices, academia and industry tune in, along with investors and the wider business community. The awards aim to honour outstanding research that has been commercialised and has led to strong engagement between companies and research-performing organisations.

The awards were across three categories: commercialisation impact, industry engagement, and a new category for 2020 created in response to Covid-19 for efforts made by knowledge transfer offices to help tackle the disease.

University College Cork (UCC) and healthcare product developer PrecisionBiotics were named winners of the Commercialisation Impact Award. PrecisionBiotics – a UCC spin-out – was founded almost 20 years ago to develop probiotics for human and animal health.

This year, it was acquired by Danish biotech multinational Novozymes in a deal worth more than €80m, and KTI expects that the deal will strengthen collaborative links between the company and UCC.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Intel Ireland were named winners of the Industry Engagement Award for their ongoing research partnership. Earlier this year, an agreement was reached which will see the two organisations working together for another six-year period as part of the multi-university SFI AMBER centre, hosted by TCD.

NUI Galway was named winner of the new Covid-19 Response Award for the development of Familylink, a project that connects patients, families and the clinical teams providing care in the constraints of the ICU setting. Through support of a technology transfer office, Familylink has been made accessible for hospitals in the public domain during the pandemic.

As part of a new feature for this year’s event, a People’s Choice Award was presented to Waterford IT’s CoronaVRus app. Attendees at the event voted in a live poll for their preferred project from the nine finalists. The CoronaVRus app is designed to educate children, specifically those with autism spectrum disorder, on Covid-19 and safety guidelines.

‘Real examples of the compelling work’

Commenting on the awards, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, said: “The KTI Impact Awards highlight some of the more recent successes and the entries demonstrate that there are opportunities for Irish SMEs, multinationals and start-up companies to see real benefits from working with Irish universities and institutes.

“The shortlist for [these] awards is impressive and I commend the hard work and focus of all who have been involved in each of the projects – the researchers, companies, investors, entrepreneurs and, of course, the teams in the technology transfer offices.”

KTI director and chair of the judging panel, Dr Alison Campbell, added: “The finalists and winners of these awards are real examples of the compelling work being undertaken in the third level to support innovation and to help Irish companies thrive in challenging markets, delivering benefit to the economy and for people.”

Updated 3.07pm, 27 November 2020: This article was updated to include Waterford IT winning the People’s Choice Award for the CoronaVRus app.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic