12 innovative entrepreneurs revealed as Invent 2018 finalists

24 May 2018

Invent 2018 finalists pictured with Dr Michael Shaw of RPS and Gavin Kennedy of Bank of Ireland UK. Image: Catalyst Inc

The Invent 2018 finalists battled fierce competition at Waterfront Hall in Belfast to secure their places.

12 entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland have been unveiled as the finalists of Invent 2018, the annual contest from Connect at Catalyst Inc, with the support of Bank of Ireland UK.

The aim of Invent is to discover the product with the most commercial potential as well as showcase Northern Ireland’s flourishing knowledge economy.

Future Human

The competition challenges entrepreneurs, scientists and start-ups to develop their proof-of-concept ideas and prototypes over a nine-month period.

This year, more than 130 people came forward with their innovations and more than 300 people attended the semi-final pitching session at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on 23 May.

One step closer to victory

All 12 finalists are now that bit closer to winning a share of the £33,000 prize fund and a place on the NI Tech Mission to California with Catalyst Inc, in association with Invest NI.

Invent programme manager Kerry McGarvey said: “The quality of entries just gets better every year. Each team had just three minutes to convince the judges that their solution for the problem they identified has great commercial potential. Our 12 finalists did an outstanding job and they are brilliant examples of NI’s booming knowledge economy.”

The semi-final was sponsored by RPS Group and its managing director, Dr Michael Shaw, said: “Invent showcases and highlights the wonderful talent and amazing innovations we have in Northern Ireland.”

Judges on the night included Shaw as well as James Foster, transaction and investment lead at Accelerated Digital Ventures; Devina Paul, partner with Galvanise; Alison Crawford, investment associate with Atlantic Bridge; Conor O’Connor, managing partner at Enterprise Equity; and Gavin Kennedy, head of business banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK.

Diverse innovations across Northern Ireland

Kennedy said: “The diverse innovations across a range of different categories, sectors and perspectives shows the future of innovation, commercial and entrepreneurial talent looks bright for Northern Ireland. On a personal note, I was thrilled to get such a close insight into these young businesses of future.”

The final will be held on Thursday 11 October 2018 at Belfast Waterfront. More than 700 investors, entrepreneurs, executives, students and researchers will gather to hear the announcement of the winners.

Last year, Phion Therapeutics walked away with the main prize. It was lauded for its new drug delivery technology, which was the result of 11 years of painstaking research involving protein fragments called peptides.

The 2018 finalists

  • Crafted Equestrian
  • Gashound
Creative Media and Consumer Internet
  • GoFyt
  • MVPx
  • Machine Eye
  • SeaBeacon
  • Zero Waste Biotech
  • Gray’s Clip
Enterprise Software
  • Importwise
  • Overwatch Research
Life and Health Sciences
  • Sonotarg
  • Micare Technologies

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects