Two Irish start-ups make it to EIT Health competition finals

24 Oct 2023

Image: © N Lawrenson/

Haon Life Sciences and Myndgard, both from Dublin, will fight it out with other European start-ups at the Wild Card competition finals on 27 October in Warsaw.

Two Irish start-ups, Haon Life Sciences and Myndgard, have been selected as finalists at a European competition focused on children’s health.

Hosted by EIT Health, the competition known as Wild Card invites innovators from across Europe to respond with ideas to solve pressing health challenges. Now in its sixth year, Wild Card pairs early-stage start-ups with mentors to develop a business proposal and pitch.

EIT Health, an EU-funded network of European health-focused innovators, said that nearly 200 entrepreneurs have been trained through the programme to date, with 44 projects accelerated, leading to €21.5m in investment attracted by Wild Card start-ups.

Haon, based in Dublin, has built a novel cell therapy platform with potential to treat paediatric and adult diseases with high unmet need. The lead candidate is an intranasal treatment for neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a disease which primarily affects newborns and is one of the leading causes of neonatal deaths worldwide.

Meanwhile, Myndgard is a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin that focuses on youth mental health. Founded by Dr Sean Kelley, Dr Edel Crehan and Pat Flynn in 2021, Myndgard is working with customers conducting clinical trials to improve its offering and raising funds to prepare for a market expansion.

“We are delighted to be selected to participate the final of the EIT Health Wild Card programme in Warsaw this month and be recognised as providing a solution to improving young people’s mental health outcomes,” said Crehan.

EIT Health said that winning teams are selected based on their business plan, product-market fit and pitch by a panel of paediatric experts and investors. The finals will take place in Warsaw on 27 October.

“Establishing a health-tech or biotech business is an exceptionally hard multistakeholder challenge, filled with regulatory complexities,” said Marc Butterly, business creation lead at EIT Health Ireland-UK.

“[Our] programme offers crucial support to earlier stage start-ups in accelerating the journey. Availing of world-class mentorship, both Haon Life Sciences and Myndgard have the opportunity to develop their business models as a pathway to becoming successful ventures.”

Last year, University College Dublin spin-out Epicapture, a former Start-up of the Week, was one of eight innovations in the EIT Health Wild Card finals and the only Irish entry to make it that far.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic