SFI reveals six research teams set to compete for €1m research prize

4 Jun 2019

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A total of six finalists have been chosen for the SFI Future Innovator Prize, with each of the teams vying for €1m in research funding.

After going through a highly competitive process overseen by an international expert review panel, six teams of Irish-based scientists have made it to the shortlist for the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Future Innovator Prize.

The competition aims to challenge the country’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to create novel, potentially disruptive technologies in collaboration with societal stakeholders and those who could benefit from them.

Each of the teams are led by academic researchers and a ‘societal impact champion’ drawn from a range of disciplines and stakeholder groups, such as industry and civil society, in an effort to support convergent and collaborative problem-solving.

Over the next few months, each of the finalists will be developing their various solutions, with the eventual winner being announced in December. Also, as part of the award, funding worth €1m will be given towards progressing their idea.

Solving major national and global challenges

This year’s competing teams hail from University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University (DCU), NUI Galway, University College Cork (UCC) and the Tyndall National Institute (TNI), with involvement of a number of national agencies, hospitals and world-leading SFI research centres.

“I congratulate the six finalists on making it to the next stage of the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI.

“Proceeding to this phase of the programme is a great achievement, and the motivation of the teams demonstrates the appetite and capacity of the Irish research community to help contribute to solving major national and global challenges. Congratulations to each team on their hard work and dedication.”

The award’s finalists include:

SepTec: Improving outcomes for sepsis patients

Dr Elaine Spain, Dr Kellie Adamson (both DCU) and Prof Gerald Curley (RCSI/Beaumont Hospital)

A disruptive, non‐viral gene-editing platform technology for treating genetic conditions

Prof Wenxin Wang, Dr Irene-Lara Sáez, Jonathan O’Keeffe-Ahern, Dr Nan Zhang (all UCD) and Dr Sinéad Hickey (Debra Ireland)

Real-time imaging of nanoscale biological processes via plasmonically enabled nanopixel arrays

Prof Dominic Zerulla, Dr Dimitri Scholz (both UCD) and Peter Doyle (consulting the European Commission with the Brussels Photonics Team)

Development of a technology for clinicians to improve the breast cancer diagnostic pathway through real-time, point-of-care detection of breast disease

Dr Eric Moore (TNI/UCC), Martin O’Sullivan (UCC) and Liosa O’Sullivan (patient advocate)

A novel hydrogel to address chronic pain in Irish patients

Dr Alison Liddy, Dr Martin O’Halloran (both NUI Galway) and Dr Chris Maharaj (University Hospital Galway)

An artificial intelligence and data analytics system for minimising hospital waiting lists and optimising healthcare capacity in Ireland

Prof Barry O’Sullivan, Helmut Simonis (both Insight Centre for Data Analytics/UCC), Dr Jane Bourke (UCC) and Prof Martin Curley (HSE Digital Academy)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic