Rapid sepsis screening tool dubbed One to Watch among 12 Big Ideas

5 Sep 2018

Dr Kellie Adamson, third from left, with her One to Watch Award. Image: Maxwell Photography

A team based in Dublin City University has won the battle of the Big Ideas.

A new technology to detect sepsis in a matter of minutes has been named ‘One to Watch’ at Enterprise Ireland’s 10th annual Big Ideas showcase at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

SepTec was one of 12 innovative ideas presented at the event, all of which tackled needs in healthcare, manufacturing, food waste and more.

The award-winning presentation was delivered by Dr Kellie Adamson, a research fellow with a PhD in diagnostics and therapeutics from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Currently based in Dublin City University, she and her co-founders, Dr Elaine Spain and Prof Robert Forster, worked with a team there to develop a solution for rapid, sensitive and cost-effective sepsis diagnosis.

Sepsis affects 30m people worldwide every year, with an estimated 6m dying from the condition. This life-threatening immune response to infection can claim lives within hours of setting in. Though time is critical, current systems for identifying and analysing the pathogens responsible can take from five hours to two days. SepTec’s patent-pending screening tool, however, can definitively identify specific sepsis pathogens directly from an unpurified blood sample within 15 minutes.

‘Little doubt’ of future success

Like her fellow presenters, SepTec co-founder Adamson had just three minutes to share this innovative solution and its commercial prospects to an invited audience of Irish research and business representatives.

Winning the One to Watch Award or simply getting the chance to present at Big Ideas can be the start of great things for these early-stage start-ups. “Many of our former Big Ideas participants have gone on to achieve success. Companies like Artomatix, NearForm and Soapbox Labs have all taken to the Big Ideas stage over the last decade to showcase their innovative propositions to the business community,” said Gearoid Mooney, divisional manager of research and innovation at Enterprise Ireland.

“Given the quality and business potential of the pitches here today, there is little doubt that many of these Big Ideas will become profitable ideas in the future.”

Getting in early on the next big thing

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said that the event giving innovative start-ups a platform for their ideas was a “window on world-class research being carried out in academic institutions all over the country”.

“Start-ups are our future,” she said, adding that the ambition of the event was to see these big ideas become the businesses of tomorrow.

“These spin-outs are an important source of start-ups for Enterprise Ireland because they tend to be based on disruptive technology, so investors looking to get in early on the next big thing have come to the right place,” said Sinnamon.

SepTec is currently undergoing a proof of concept in collaboration with St James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, and Sinnamon said today: “We hope to work with SepTec to help them realise their commercial potential and bring their innovation to new markets.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.