Galway’s Bluedrop Medical wins big in US challenge for diabetes tech

27 Sep 2021

Image: © WindyNight/

The Irish medtech bagged the top prize at the Roche Diabetes Innovation Challenge and will receive $20,000 along with the opportunity to pilot its device.

Galway-based start-up Bluedrop Medical has won the 2021 Roche Diabetes Care Innovation Challenge in association with Chicago-based healthcare incubator Matter.

The challenge recognised start-ups that are innovating to monitor and address diabetes and related comorbidities such as depression, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and neuropathy.

Bluedrop Medical received the top prize for its patented diabetic foot ulcer detection device that uses AI-powered visual and thermal assessments to intervene early.

“Diabetic foot ulcers are a debilitating complication for people living with diabetes. Sadly, this preventable complication can lead to amputation and eventually death,” said Bluedrop CEO Chris Murphy.

In Ireland, there are 540 amputations carried out on patients with diabetes every year, according to the company.

Bluedrop Medical will now receive $20,000 in prize money, along with a one-year membership to Matter’s network and the opportunity to pilot its technology.

More than 50 global start-ups applied for the challenge, with seven making it to the semi-finals. Only three of them – Bluedrop, Cliexa and HelloBetter – made it to the final stage, where they developed and presented a pilot.

‘Address unmet needs’

“Diabetes is one of the most pervasive health problems in the world, and comorbidities such as depression, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and neuropathy complicate an already challenging condition,” said Stephen Ranjan, VP at Roche Diabetes Care.

“By collaborating with start-ups that are working on novel approaches for these comorbidities, Roche Diabetes Care is able to accelerate solutions that address unmet needs for people living with diabetes.”

In September 2019, Bluedrop Medical raised €3.7m for its device with support from the Halo Business Angel Network and Enterprise Ireland. It also received funding from Enterprise Ireland and the HSE as part of an initiative to develop new innovations and technologies to address complications related to diabetes.

The start-up was founded in 2015 by Murphy and Simon Kiersey, both graduates of Bank of Ireland’s six-month incubator StartLab. They were joined by CTO Gavin Corley and a team of experts in electronic medical devices, cloud software and AI.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic