Student founders win NovaUCD start-up accelerator

21 Jun 2024

From left: Zackary Musumeci, Rory Lambe and Ben O’Grady. Image: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Clia and Orgo emerged victorious after the four-week NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, winning €3,000 each to help kick off their business ideas.

Two student-founded start-ups have emerged as winners of an accelerator programme based in University College Dublin (UCD).

In an announcement today (21 June), UCD said that start-ups Clia and Orgo won the Tech Sustainability Prize and the One to Watch Prize respectively at the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition.

NovaUCD, a start-up hub based in the university, kicked off the accelerator last month to help undergraduate and postgraduate students develop their business ideas. 14 early-stage start-ups were selected to take part in the four-week programme now in its 10th year.

Clia is a medtech start-up that has developed a software which plugs into existing cardiac rehabilitation services to improve support and treatment for people at risk of cardiac disease.

The technology uses wearable health data to track and provide insights in heart health, offering links to structured exercise services and provide check-ups with cardiac specialist physiotherapists.

Clia was founded by Rory Lambe and Ben O’Grady, both research master’s students focusing on wearables at the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. Their research is being conducted under the supervision of Dr Cailbhe Doherty.

“We are building a team of exercise specialists in wearable data accuracy and who have worked in the Irish healthcare and cardiac rehab systems to monitor heart health and to ultimately improve cardiac health and reduce cardiac disease,” said O’Grady.

“We are passionate about health, technology and innovation, and our vision at Clia is central to this. We aim to validate and progress our concept to bring our research knowledge in wearable health to market with the goal of improving heart health and wellness.”

Meanwhile, Orgo is an edtech start-up that is developing a mobile e-learning platform focused on organic chemistry to enable students across the academic spectrum to become comfortable with the subject.

The idea is that the mobile app will help students with bite-size lessons and revision questions to help them be academically successful throughout their college careers.

Orgo was founded by Zackary Musumeci, an undergraduate student of biochemistry and molecular biology at the UCD College of Science. Both Clia and Orgo were awarded cash prizes of €3,000.

Musumeci said that a key reason for high attrition rates among students of health sciences or medicine is the difficulty of preparatory course content, particularly organic chemistry.

“This subject is fundamental to these students, but it can be unintuitive and requires extensive practice, which requires a significant time investment,” he said.

“Our solution consists of a mobile app that includes a gamified learning experience, with bite-sized lectures and revision content. This allows students to get practice in at any time of the day. With long-term learning, consistency is key even if students are only using the app for a few minutes a day.”

Among the entrepreneurs who previously took part in the competition is Charlie Gleeson, who completed the competition in 2019 with an e-scooter business idea that eventually became Zipp Mobility – which went on to be acquired by Zeus Scooters last year.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic