7 Irish women entrepreneurs to compete for top EU prizes

21 Oct 2021

Image: © Denys Rudyi/Stock.adobe.com

The winners of this year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators will be announced in Brussels in November.

A third of entrepreneurs nominated for the finals for this year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators are Irish, the European Commission has revealed.

The prize is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation and managed by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and SMEs Executive Agency.

Five of the Irish entrepreneurs are competing for three prizes of €100,000 each in the Women Innovators category. The winners will be announced at the EIC Summit in Brussels in late November.

The successful nominees were praised by Enterprise Ireland’s national director for Horizon Europe, Garrett Murray. “It is a testament to the capability and talent of women leaders and entrepreneurs within the Irish innovation and commercialisation system,” he said.

The result “also highlights the international competitiveness of Ireland’s women entrepreneurs” and the Irish start-up community, he said.

“In line with Enterprise Ireland’s strategy, these awards help promote Irish women entrepreneurs and provide a platform for them to build on their existing capabilities, scale and create jobs,” added Murray.

Anita Finnegan

First among the Irish women entrepreneurs nominated is Anita Finnegan, co-founder and CEO of Nova Leah, a medical device security start-up. Finnegan has grown Nova Leah out of her own PhD research on medical device cybersecurity assurance and the company has already picked up a string of awards as one to watch.

Ciara Clancy

Ciara Clancy is the founder and CEO of Beats Medical, another medtech start-up. Both Beats Medical and Clancy have already been recognised with awards and competition wins for the company’s smartphone app that offers sound-wave therapy to help Parkinson’s patients regain mobility.

Lisa O’Donoghue

Through her research at the University of Limerick, Dr Lisa O’Donoghue developed a process to automate the removal of hazardous materials from TVs during recycling. She spun this research out as Votechnik, a start-up that recently received EIC funding. O’Donoghue leads Votechnik as CEO.

Patricia Scanlon

Entrepreneur Patricia Scanlon recently stepped down from her role as CEO of SoapBox Labs, the company she founded in 2013 based on her own research into speech technology and the opportunity she saw in developing this tech for children. She now leads the company’s future vision and strategy as executive chair.

Suzanne Moloney

Previously spotlighted by Siliconrepublic.com among women entrepreneurs supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund, Suzanne Moloney is a former chef and bakery owner who is now founder and CEO of medtech start-up HidraMed Solutions. Inspired by Moloney’s own experience with a debilitating skin disease, HidraMed develops products for the everyday care of chronic wounds.

Ailbhe and Izzy Keane

Sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane are the only Irish nominees in contention for the EU’s Rising Innovator award, a €50,000 prize limited to women entrepreneurs aged 30 or under. The Keanes founded Izzy Wheels, which creates fashionable wheelchair accessories. At Inspirefest 2017, design graduate Ailbhe detailed the thoughtful construction behind Izzy Wheels’ bespoke wheel covers, which are more than just a style statement.

With additional reporting by Elaine Burke

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.