RCSI, UCC and DCU win big at KTI Impact Awards 2021

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KTI Director Alison Campbell and Impact Awards MC Richard Curran. Image: Maxwells/KTI

The awards celebrate innovation and collaboration in bringing public research to the commercial space.

The winners of this year’s Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards have been announced, including innovative projects and businesses associated with Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin City University (DCU).

Every year, the KTI Impact Awards recognise innovation offices at higher educations institutes across Ireland for their role in helping produce commercial impact from academic research. This is the sixth edition of the awards, and the shortlist was revealed in late September.

Winners were announced under three categories: commercialisation impact; industry engagement; and future forward, a new category introduced this year that seeks to recognise early-stage activities with potential impact in the future.

‘These awards are an excellent opportunity to showcase what can be achieved when industry and our higher education institutions come together to solve problems’
– LEO VARADKAR, TD

RSCI and Locate Bio emerged winners in the commercialisation impact category for work in the field of orthobiologics – biological substances that help musculoskeletal injuries heal quicker. RCSI licensed three bone and cartilage regenerative technologies to Locate Bio last year.

The technologies have been granted FDA breakthrough device designation, which will help Locate Bio in the regulatory process. The KTI award judges were particularly impressed by the support provided by RCSI’s innovation office in transferring the IP to Locate Bio.

Bagging the prize for industry engagement was the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC), based at UCC, and Rockley Photonics, for a research partnership that has benefited both parties and created jobs in industry. More than €3.4m has been invested in this partnership by Rockley and Science Foundation Ireland.

On the back of the collaboration, which started in 2017, Rockley Photonics Ireland was established in Cork last year and grew to employ 10 people this year. The company uses apps and data chips for use in healthcare, machines and wearable devices.

The new future forward award was given to DCU and Inclusio, a university spin-out founded in December 2020 that focuses on transforming workplace culture through an AI engine that enables companies to take a data-driven approach to culture and diversity.

Inclusio’s AI engine drives personalised, bite-sized learning and engagement that aims to help employees contribute to workplace culture, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Judges found its commercial prospects promising based on strong levels of funding and its growing client base.

“These awards are an excellent opportunity to showcase what can be achieved when industry and our higher education institutions come together to solve problems and improve outcomes for people,” said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD.

“Data show that companies which collaborate with our universities have double the turnover of those that don’t, so there are some real opportunities.”

Statistics released by KTI earlier this year showed that publicly funded research contributed to 39 new products or services being launched to market in 2020.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com