12 start-ups pitching their big ideas at an Enterprise Ireland showcase

3 Nov 2021

Image: © sonya etchison/Stock.adobe.com

These 12 early-stage research-led start-ups will pitch their businesses to investors and researchers at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2021.

On 11 November, 12 Irish early-stage start-ups rooted in research will pitch their tech innovations and business plans to investors and researchers at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2021 event.

Every year, the event highlights successful collaborations between higher education institutes, investors and the State, providing a platform for innovative research ideas to take flight and help grow fledgling businesses.

Here are this year’s Big Ideas candidates looking to impress at the online event next week.

Amara Therapeutics

Overactive bladder, or OAB, is a common pelvic health condition that affects 85m people in the EU and US, according to Amara Therapeutics co-founder and health psychologist Emma Carr. This disruption in signalling between the bladder and the brain that leads to false bladder alarms can significantly reduce a patient’s quality of life.

To provide an alternative to expensive and often inaccessible treatment, Amara has created a $700 eight-week session using audio and video content on smartphones, called RiSolve, that combines behavioural therapy with psychology, physiotherapy and dietetics to help treat OAB. Amara aims to raise $3m in its seed funding round.


Arama is a technology start-up that aims to revolutionise live television broadcasts such as sport events using artificial intelligence and computer vision. Led by Irish entrepreneur Donal Scannell, Arama claims its tech can significantly reduce production costs and help “a crew of three do what is currently achieved by a crew of 33”.

Broadcasters such as RTÉ and Premier Sports are trialling Arama’s technology as partners, and the start-up said it is in talks with some big players in the European TV space. Scannell, who is the CEO, has previously worked in the TV industry on shows like The Late Late Show and rugby programmes, as well as on U2 tours.

AVeta Medical

This Irish medtech is trying to solve a very specific health problem faced by women across the world – vaginal atrophy. It is a chronic and progressive condition that, among other complications, can make it difficult to sit, stand and move freely, greatly reducing quality of life for those affected.

AVeta, founded by CEO Paula Newell, has developed a device that aims to provide a hormone-free, safe and affordable alternative to current treatments. With eyes on the US and EU markets, AVeta was recently granted €2.5m by the European Innovation Council to conduct US clinical trials and apply for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Elevre Medical

Elevre aims to be a breath of fresh air for patients suffering from breathlessness due to various health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Its wearable medical device, ResWave, can be worn discreetly on the chest under clothing and delivers localised neuromuscular stimulation to provide relief when patients are undergoing physical activity.

The idea was developed at the Bioinnovate fellowship in 2018, a medical innovation programme that works towards unmet clinical needs. Elevre is an NUI Galway spin-out and was co-founded by CEO and biomedical expert Miriam Savage.


This Irish health-tech start-up aims to change the way the medical industry tests for prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers affecting men. While traditional detection methods include blood tests, rectal exams, MRI scans and prostate biopsies, Epicapture, led by University College Dublin (UCD) researcher Dr Antoinette Perry, has developed a urine-based diagnostic test for prostate cancer.

The test was found to be non-invasive and accurate in two independent studies of men in the US, Europe and Asia. Intended to run alongside the blood test, the urine test is run on polymerase chain reaction machines, which are also used to test for Covid-19.


IlluminAi is focused on the human-centric lighting (HCL) space with an AI-powered lighting system that follows a user’s circadian rhythm to provide the right amount of light. Intended for use as a stress-therapy product, IlluminAi’s tech aims to stimulate the natural cycle of daylight.

The tech can also connect users to immersive outdoor scenes and guided meditations through an app. IlluminAi’s HCL is designed to use the power of AI to learn from user feedback and cater to individual needs rather than fit-for-all traditional lighting systems. The start-up is looking to launch its product in 2022. It was co-founded by Morteza Matkan, who was a researcher in architecture at UCD.

Luminate Medical

Luminate is a medical device company that is using medtech to address hair loss in people undergoing chemotherapy. Based in Galway, the start-up aims to create devices that can eliminate the side effects of drug treatments for cancer patients because it believes hair is an “essential element of personality and self-esteem”.

Its Lily device is currently under development in collaboration with the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway. The medtech was co-founded in 2019 by CEO Aaron Hannon, CTO Barbara Oliveira and chief scientific adviser Martin O’Halloran. It was recently selected for the Y Combinator programme.


According to the HSE, children who spend lots of time in front of a screen in their early childhood are more likely to sleep less, have sleep issues and be obese. Health-tech start-up MoveAhead aims to deal with this growing screentime and its associated health issues by creating games for smartphones and tablets that get children moving.

MoveAhead’s privacy-first technology turns children into moving controllers and uses machine learning and motion tracking data to determine how they move to personalise the gaming experience so that it is “never too hard, and never too easy”. It intends to progress from trial partnerships and spin out of Dublin City University (DCU) in 2022.


The Pearlabs team in UCD, led by Prof Dominic Zerulla, has developed imaging technology that enables real-time nanoscale optical microscopy. This aims to transform our understanding of processes such as cell signalling and cell proliferation in cancer. Using super resolution imaging technology, Pearlabs can produce live images with 10-times improved spatial resolution at video rate without destroying samples.

Pearlabs hopes that further development of its photonic chip will see its imaging technology be used in diagnostic applications such as endoscopies or even in consumer devices. The Pearlabs team won a special prize of €500,000 from Science Foundation Ireland’s Future Innovator Prize in 2020.


Stimul.ai is creating AI-led tech to tackle time management in healthcare systems. Specifically, it is aiming to reduce the time patients spend on hospital waiting lists. Ireland’s hospital waiting list numbers reached a record approaching 1m this year, a pre-existing problem exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and a cyberattack on the Health Service Executive.

The technology operates via an on-demand cloud-based SaaS platform and uses scenario modelling to deliver evidence-based data intelligence. While the company was founded only this year, by Naomh McElhatton and Prof Barry O’Sullivan, Stimul.ai is built on more than a decade of AI and decision analytics research at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the School of Computer Science and IT at University College Cork.


This change management platform for mobile and distributed workforces, including frontline workers, uses data and analytics to give employers real-time insight to improve engagement and performance for its workforce on the go.

Wrky says its tech can help companies improve employee retention and performance and make workplaces more desirable to work in with the help of data. It was co-founded by Dr Brian Slattery, an assistant professor at DCU, and the company is aiming to spin out of university by the end of this year.

Xtremedy Medical

Xtremedy is a medtech start-up that aims to increase the effectiveness of surgeries that address deep tissue and bone infections. Traditional methods of treating these infections are often long and difficult, with many patients requiring follow up surgeries or, in some cases, amputations. Xtremedy’s surgical device delivers electric signals through wounds, both at the surface and below, to zap any residual infection.

The technology is non-thermal and Xtremedy says it preserves the integrity of the wound after treatment, reducing the time taken to heal. The start-up was co-founded by Lyn Markey and Camille O’Malley during a BioInnovate fellowship in 2018 to 2019. Developed in NUIG’s Translational Medical Device Lab, Xtremedy intends to spin out in 2022.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic