Fifteen new ventures vie for €35,000 start-up prize

10 Nov 2011

Pictured at NovaUCD are some of the participants on the NovaUCD 2011 Campus Company Development Programme

NovaUCD is preparing to showcase 15 new high-tech and knowledge-intensive ventures that are emerging from University College Dublin (UCD) research programmes during its annual start-up awards evening next week. The new ventures will be looking to appeal to investors and research bodies so they can become spin-outs.

The aim of the NovaUCD new venture support programme is to assist UCD academic and research entrepreneurs in the development of new high-tech ventures to commercialise the output of their research activities.

Among the 15 ventures to emerge from UCD are AntTweeter and Phision Therapeutics. AntTweeter is developing a location-based, socially driven question-and-answering service that draws upon Twitter to share questions and answers with a wide community.

On the medical-tech side, Phision Therapeutics has identified novel small molecule anti-angiogenic compounds that can be used as drugs to inhibit the formation of unwanted blood vessels associated with ophthalmic diseases and cancer.

On the green-tech side, Sustainability in Historic Buildings Simulation Software is developing energy simulation software for the analysis of the energy performance of historic buildings, while protecting their architectural heritage.

Here’s a glimpse of all 15 new ventures:

AntTweeter The promoter is Dr Kevin McCarthy, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, and the CLARITY Centre for Sensor Web Technologies.

APC provides process-engineering solutions to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The promoters are Prof Brian Glennon and Dr Mark Barrett, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.

Bill Slicer is developing a software application to provide a fair electricity bill splitting method for users in shared living environments.  The promoters are Dr Seamus Rooney and Dr Antonio Ruzzelli, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, and the CLARITY Centre for Sensor Web Technologies.

Building Risk Assessment & Management (BRAM) Consulting Engineers is providing risk assessment and risk management services for existing buildings during adjacent construction or industrial activities. In addition, it is developing associated software for converting remote sensing data into reconstructed building models. The promoters are Dr Debra Laefer, Dr Linh Truong-Hong and Julie Clarke, UCD School of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

EcoGlan is developing services, using environmentally friendly technology, for cleaning applications in the agrifood industry. The promoters are Dr Paddy Solan, Dr Tom Curran and Prof Colm O’Donnell, UCD School of Biosystems Engineering.

Entrepreneurshipnet is aiming to become a leading provider of educational discovery and personalised, curated, search aggregation tools for a global customer base of public and private academic libraries. The promoters are Dr Rory O’Shea, UCD School of Business, and Catherine Keane.

Equilume is developing a novel light therapy solution to maximise reproductive efficiency in horses. The light mask will advance the breeding season, shorten gestation lengths and increase foal birth weights, while eliminating the costs of indoor maintenance of mares. The promoters are Dr Barbara Murphy and Caroline Walsh, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

ForkStream is aiming to provide an end-point technology that will allow mobile network operators to offload mobile users’ data to third-party wireless networks. The promoters are Dr John Fitzpatrick and Dr Hamid Nafaa, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics.

Mobifit Technologies is developing a device and associated software for monitoring exercise activity, providing qualitative and quantitative feedback of a user’s exercise performance. The promoters are Ken Taylor and Dr Chris Bleakley, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics.

miRFUNCTION is developing microRNA protein targets to manipulate cell death in drug-resistant cancer cells. The promoter is Dr Fiona Furlong, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science.

Novel Energy Absorption Mechanism is developing a product with a novel energy-absorption mechanism, which allows for impact energy dissipation in more than one direction and has multiple applications, including crash helmet design. The promoters are Dr Manuel Forero Rueda and Prof Michael Gilchrist, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Phision Therapeutics The promoters are Dr Breandan Kennedy, Dr Alison Reynolds, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and Dr Jacintha O’Sullivan, Institute of Molecular Medicine, St James’s Hospital, Trinity College Dublin.

Scream Technologies is developing speech technologies for the interactive entertainment industry. It hopes these technologies will enable game studios to overcome problems with voice recording, fine tuning and playback. The promoter is Dr Peter Cahill, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics.

Sire Bank aims to provide a commercial sheep semen collection and storage centre for pedigree and commercial sheep farmers in order to assist them in maximising the breeding process. The promoters are Dr Alan Fahey and Pat Duffy, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

Sustainability in Historic Buildings Simulation Software is developing energy simulation software for the analysis of the energy performance of historic buildings. The team believes this solution will allow historic buildings to adhere to energy conservation demands while maintaining their artistic, historic and cultural value. The promoter is Florence Timothy-Afolayan, UCD School of Architecture.

Elevator Pitch
The NovaUCD 2011 Campus Company Development Programme (CCDP) awards will take place on Thursday, 17 November in the William Jefferson Clinton Auditorium, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4.

From 4.30pm, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with and talk to the promoters during the new ventures showcase. The main awards event itself will commence at 5.45pm.

Serial entrepreneur Iain Mac Donald, CEO and co-founder, SkillPages, will be the guest entrepreneurial speaker at the awards evening. SkillPages is a skill-based social network and more than 2m people have already joined it since the start of the year.

During the main awards event, each of the participants will deliver a short ‘elevator pitch’. Three shortlisted ventures, selected by an independent evaluation panel, will then present their business plans in more detail to an audience comprising members of Ireland’s State agencies, and venture capital, research, industry and business communities.

JLizard winners of the 2010 NovaUCD 2010 Start-Up Award

Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Holub, co-founders, JLizard, overall winners of the NovaUCD 2010 Start-Up Award

“The participation of researchers in the establishment of new high-tech ventures, to translate innovative ideas arising from research programmes into value-added products and services, is of critical importance for the development of a sustainable smart economy in Ireland,” said Prof Peter Clinch, UCD vice-president for Innovation, this morning.

“The new high-tech ventures being showcased at this year’s NovaUCD start-up awards will in time also lead to the generation of highly skilled employment opportunities,” added Prof Clinch.

What will the winner get?

  • A prize fund totalling €35,000 is available to the award winners.
  • The overall winner will be presented with the NovaUCD 2011 Start-Up Award, a cheque for €5,000 and six months’ free desk space at NovaUCD.
  • The two other finalists will receive runner-up awards, cheques for €3,000 and €2,000 respectively, along with six months’ free desk space at NovaUCD.
  • In addition, the overall winner will receive €6,000 worth of professional services from Deloitte, €3,000 worth of legal services from Arthur Cox, €1,000 worth of business and taxation consultancy from Delaney Financial Consultancy and NewMarket Partnership.
  • The winner will also receive a year’s free subscription to the AccountsIQ software.
  • Arthur Cox will also be providing €2,000 and €1,000 worth of legal services respectively to the two runners-up.

The NovaUCD 2011 Campus Company Development Programme awards evening is free to attend and is taking place as part of the Innovation Dublin 2011 Festival.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic