Five of Ireland’s ‘young innovators’ will join their peers at an MIT event in Donegal

10 May 2023

Fergus Begley, start-up manager at Ulster University; JoAnne Kilmartin, project development officer at ATU Donegal; Andy Caomhánach, IT Lecturer at University of Galway; and Paul Hannigan, head of ATU Donegal. Image: EmTech

Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht will host a two-day tech conference to celebrate MIT’s 2023 Innovators Under 35 list.

Five of the 35 people on this year’s MIT Innovators Under 35 list are based in Ireland. They will get the chance to meet their peers from other regions at an event hosted by EmTech, which runs MIT Technology Review’s flagship conference for techies in Europe.

The Irish-based people named on the list this year are Brendan Staunton, CEO and co-founder of Amara Therapeutics; Bárbara Oliveira, CTO and co-founder of Luminate Medical; Dominic Holmes, CEO and co-founder of eXRt Intelligent Healthcare; Dr Fiona Freeman, University College Dublin; and Elle Sander, CEO and co-founder of Lifelet Medical.

They will attend the two-day event in Donegal starting tomorrow (11 May). Their fellow honourees this year hail from Greece, the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finland, Basque Country, Germany, Denmark and Romania.

Údarás na Gaeltachta is one of the sponsors of the event alongside the North West City Region Councils of Derry City, Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council, University of Galway, Catalyst, Randox, Optum, Ulster University, Unosquare and Atlantic Technological University.

This year’s conference will look at how technology can make society a better place. The benefits the Gaeltacht community of Donegal has derived from remote working and tech companies like Pangea and OCO Global setting up base in the local remote working hubs in recent times is sure to be a talking point.

Gaoth Dobhair is an area of rich heritage and culture right at the heart of the largest Gaeltacht in Ireland. Despite being located on the Atlantic’s edge, the area can now also boast some of the strongest broadband connectivity on the island of Ireland and a range of European-class companies at its business park,” said Connla McCann, director of Aisling Events which is hosting the festival.

“It’s a treat to be bringing the most brilliant young innovators across Europe to a region which is demonstrating that innovation can happen on the road less travelled,” McCann added.

Around 175 people will attend the conference and festival. Guest speakers will include biomolecular physicist Georgios Nounesis, who is the director of the Greek National Centre for Scientific Research. He will deliver a keynote to the final list of Young Innovators.

MIT has been compiling its list of changemakers under 35 in Europe for more than 20 years. Past alumni include Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, CRISPR Technology Pioneer Feng Zhang and Tesla Motors co-founder JB Straubel.

Here is some more information about the Ireland-based innovators this year.

Brendan Staunton

Staunton is the CEO and co-founder of Amara Therapeutics, a Galway-based medtech company that has recently raised €3m to further develop its app for women to manage the symptoms of overactive bladder conditions. The app is called BladderBoss. Staunton is a graduate of the University of Galway.

Bárbara Oliveira

Like Staunton, Oliveira is also based in Galway. She is the co-founder and CTO at Luminate Medical, a medtech start-up developing devices to help patients during cancer and chemotherapy. Her PhD, undertaken at the University of Galway, focused on oncology and breast cancer treatments.

Dominic Holmes

eXRt Intelligent Healthcare was set up by Holmes a few years ago as a way of harnessing VR tech to make it easier for patients with neurological conditions to access therapy and rehab care. He has a PhD in computer science.

Dr Fiona Freeman

Freeman is an assistant professor and Ad Astra Fellow at University College Dublin’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. She has identified a novel gene that could potentially be used in the treatment of bone cancers.

Elle Sander

As CEO and co-founder of Lifelet Medical, Sander is working to advance heart valve replacement technology. She has a master’s in Regenerative Medicine from the University of Galway.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.