KTI reveals research and spin-outs shortlisted for 2021 Impact Awards

30 Sep 2021

KTI’s Alison Campbell. Image: Maxwell Photography

Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s Impact Awards shortlist features a range of collaborative projects between academics and businesses.

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), the national body that aims to boost business through research and innovation, has revealed the shortlist for its 2021 Impact Awards.

The annual awards showcase the best in innovation and collaboration from public research. The 2021 winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony in Dublin’s Croke Park on 26 November.

Future Human

Alison Campbell, KTI’s director, spoke of the encouraging “breadth of activity” this year’s entries have displayed.

“The enduring commitment we see from industry to work with Irish researchers sends a positive message about the engagement model we have here in Ireland and the impact from spin-out companies emerging from the system is really impressive,” Campbell said.

“That is testament to the strength of the Irish knowledge transfer offices and the unique system of supports that we have in the country,” she added.

Awards will be presented across three different categories this year: commercialisation, industry engagement and future forward. In total, there are nine companies shortlisted.

Commercialisation

The commercialisation category focuses on spin-out companies.

First up on the shortlist is Vetex, a spin-out of NUI Galway, which develops technology to address the management of venous clots. The company was acquired by medical device firm Surmodics in a deal worth almost €40m earlier this year. Vetex reached a major milestone last year when it gained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory approval for its clot removal product ReVene.

Next on the shortlist is Locate Bio and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The university licensed three bone and cartilage regenerative technologies to the orthobiologics company last year. The technologies have subsequently been granted FDA breakthrough device designation.

Also nominated is Inflazome, a joint spin-out from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Australia’s University of Queensland. The company, which develops oral treatments for inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, was acquired by pharma giant Roche in a €380m deal in 2020.

Industry engagement

The industry engagement category recognises collaborations between publicly funded research-performing organisations and companies.

Donegal’s Inishowen Rivers Trust and TCD’s flood management project was shortlisted. The collaboration was borne out of severe flooding around Inishowen, Co Donegal, in 2017. TCD provided academic expertise to the Inishowen Rivers Trust on flood management measures and researchers worked with the local community to determine specific measures for implementation.

Rockley Photonics and University College Cork (UCC) are next up on the shortlist. The silicon photonics company has collaborated with the Irish Photonic Integration Centre at UCC’s Tyndall National Institute since 2017. It is regarded as one of UCC’s most successful collaboration partnerships.

Last on the list is medical diagnostics company Revlar Labs. It collaborated with University College Dublin (UCD) to develop a new diagnostics product for Covid-19 testing based on a novel biosensor platform called BioSwitch. With the promise of delivering fast, low-cost, accurate and easy-to-use tests, the team from UCD and Revlar Labs have collaborated on further R&D with the aim of bringing these diagnostic tests to the market.

Future forward

The final category for the 2021 Impact Awards focuses on activities that may still be in the early stages with a strong potential for future impact.

First on the list of three is Inclusio, a SaaS spin-out from Dublin City University founded in 2020. It is focused on transforming workplace culture through an AI engine that enables companies to take a data-driven approach to culture and diversity.

Next up is Ocumetra, a spin-out company from TU Dublin established in June 2020 to commercialise research on myopia control. The research was undertaken at the Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI) at TU Dublin.

Last, but by no means least, is Mirai Medical. The UCC spin-out was founded in 2015 and focuses on developing a breakthrough electrochemotherapy (ECT) that can treat cancers in an outpatient setting. Mirai had raised significant levels of funding, including €4.78m in 2021 under the State’s Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com