12 big ideas tackling healthcare, manufacturing, food waste and more

31 Aug 2018

Image: vectorfusionart/Shutterstock

Enterprise Ireland is ready to showcase 12 investor-ready Big Ideas tackling some big issues – which one will stand out?

Enterprise Ireland’s 10th Big Ideas showcase comes to the Guinness Storehouse on 5 September 2018. At the event, 12 promoters will pitch their big ideas to investors, hoping to secure a deal or partnership that will bring their development to the next level.

Just one of these big ideas will walk away with the Enterprise Ireland One to Watch Award. Which one will it be?

AtriAN Medical

Atrial fibrillation (or AFib) is the occurrence of an irregular, often rapid heart rate that can increase risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. A new approach for treatment of AFib originated at Mayo Clinic in the US and was further developed in collaboration with NUI Galway, resulting in AtriAN Medical. AtriAN’s technology targets the origin of the electrical signals that cause AFib. By delivering short pulses of electrical energy to clusters of neuronal cells on the outside of the heart in which the arrhythmia originates, this treatment selectively targets the cells responsible for the errant signals without damaging the heart muscle.


Already an award-winning service, WaytoB helps people with intellectual disabilities to navigate outdoor environments and increase their independence. Using a smartphone and smartwatch combination, WaytoB guides users with vibrations and intuitive, icon-based instructions. To put carers’ minds at ease, the system also includes a panic button for the wearer as well as secure tracking, and monitoring of both heart rate and battery life for a connected partner. Co-founded by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) graduates Talita Holzer and Robbie Fryers, the WaytoB team hopes to have the product ready for release in Ireland and the UK by the end of 2019.


Manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace and mass transport sectors are seeking ways to make vehicles lighter – and, therefore, more fuel-efficient – at lower cost, effort and waste. PlasmaBound might have a solution. Led by CEO Alan Barry, this University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out has developed a technology called controlled plasma ablation (CPA). CPA enables the reliable adhesive joining of lightweight materials (such as carbon and glass fibre-reinforced composites), which is stronger than the composite structures themselves. Additionally, CPA produces no waste, reduces reliance on metal fasteners and lowers production costs. With support from Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland, PlasmaBound is currently engaged with five global manufacturers and also supported Éirloop, Ireland’s award-winning entry to the SpaceX Hyperloop competition.


To build an energy-compliant structure, you need to use energy analysis software at the design stage. Architect and researcher Michael Mescal was frustrated with the software on offer for this task, so he set about developing his own. Mescal specialises in computational design and environmental simulation systems at UCD. His energy analysis software, En-Perium, uses an on-screen traffic light system to inform designers in real time and within their own CAD systems which part of a building is greenlit for compliance or throwing up a red flag. The plan is for En-Perium to spin out of UCD and launch in Q2 of 2019.


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. That is why Dr Kellie Adamson and a team at Dublin City University set about developing technology for rapid detection. This patent-pending screening tool, SepTec, can definitively identify specific sepsis pathogens directly from an unpurified blood sample within 15 minutes. SepTec is currently undergoing a proof of concept in collaboration with St James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

Senoptica Technologies

About one-third of the food produced in the world gets lost or wasted. In the case of some resource-intensive and valuable foods, modified atmosphere packaging is used to hermetically seal and keep food fresher for longer. This packaging is usually tested at the point of production, capturing a small sample at a single point in the supply chain. A Senoptica Technologies sensor, however, can be printed directly into the packaging and therefore verify the integrity of every pack at any time. This technology can be used in medical device, biotech and electronics industries, but Senoptica is concentrating on the global food packaging market for now, aiming to alleviate food waste, production costs, retailer penalties and potential for product litigation.


Spinning out from Cork Institute of Technology, AudioSourceRE is a technology developed by Dr Derry Fitzgerald, while digital business executive John O’Connell is driving commercialisation. O’Connell is targeting a market valued at $1.6bn with this audio deconstruction software, which can separate and manipulate audio files without the need for access to original master recordings. Using AudioSourceRE to de-mix or reverse-engineer audio files, audio engineers, producers or musicians will be able to extract and replace instruments in tracks, up-mix old sound formats to new ones (such as Dolby 5.1), strip away noise and repair audio, revitalise archive content for reuse and resale, or create tutorials, karaoke and play-along material using the original content.

Prolego Scientific

Co-founded by Dr Belinda Hernández and Prof Andrew Parnell, Prolego Scientific brings together statistics, algorithmic development, bioengineering and genetics in the name of breeding pedigree animals and crops. Using artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques, Prolego provides genomic predictions of breeding values and performance metrics for thoroughbred animals and crops. The company has built two proprietary algorithms: the Gen A technology is currently in use in the equine industry to predict the future performance of elite racehorses, and has been shown to beat the accuracy of industry gold-standard algorithms by about 20pc on average; while the Gen B algorithm in development is currently showing accuracy improvements of between 10 and 100pc.


ChemoGel founder and inventor Dr Helena Kelly has developed a new way to deliver drugs to pancreatic cancer tumours, which are notoriously dense and difficult to penetrate with necessary treatment. Developed at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) with support from both RCSI and Enterprise Ireland, ChemoGel is a unique thermoresponsive hydrogel drug delivery platform. Liquid at room temperature, this gel can be loaded with chemotherapy drugs and delivered to pancreatic tumours using standard endoscopy procedures. After injection, ChemoGel transitions to a gel state, thus becoming a ‘drug depot’ within the tumour, delivering a high drug concentration locally over a sustained period of time.


An ocular microtremor (OMT) is a very tiny high-frequency physiological tremor of the eye, present in all individuals. The frequency of this tremor is known to change with levels of consciousness and thus is considered a quantitative measure of brain activity – but you need the right instruments to measure it. Developed from many years of clinical and technical research on OMT at TCD and St James’s Hospital, iTremor’s OMT measurement device is easy to use and doesn’t make contact with the eye. It’s believed this device could revolutionise the application of OMT in clinical practice and can even be used to detect concussion in just three seconds at the side of a pitch.


Led by CEO Dr David Corr, UCD spin-out Atturos is building a pipeline of advanced blood tests that evaluate patients’ protein status to support personalised medicine. The first of these tests focuses on prostate cancer – specifically, determining whether or not that cancer is aggressive or indolent. Indolent prostate cancer is considered low-risk due to its slow-growing, low-volume nature. Knowing which form of prostate cancer they’re dealing with, both physicians and patients can be better informed in decisions regarding treatment, and avoid over-treatment of a disease that can be effectively managed through active surveillance.

Cortex Analytics

What value do patients place on their medications? This has become increasingly of interest to pharmaceutical companies, particularly if that value can predict patient adherence. But how can value be measured in a true and total way? UCD-based start-up Cortex Analytics has answered this question with the Total Patient Value (TPV) toolkit, a cloud-based system measuring newly developed and validated behavioural metrics, which are then scored using a proprietary algorithm that delivers predictive information in a graphical format. Cortex Analytics claims that TPV data can be generated earlier in the drug development process than currently available, saving time and money for pharma companies.

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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.