7 Irish start-ups that have raised funding during the pandemic

20 Aug 20201.91k Views

An aerial view of Dublin city centre. Image: © Eugene Remizov/Stock.adobe.com

We look at seven start-ups in Ireland that have managed to secure funding despite the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

It did not take long to realise that Covid-19 would have a significant impact on businesses around the world.

But while some struggled to cope with restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of the virus, others were in a position to take advantage of the situation or pivot their business to address new needs that have arisen in recent months.

Plenty of businesses have found ways to adapt, but this week we’re looking at some of the Irish start-ups that have managed to raise investment during the crisis. These start-ups were highlighted in TechIreland’s recent Startup Funding Review for the first half of 2020.

Aquila Bioscience

Galway-based Aquila Bioscience was founded in 2012. The company has developed decontamination technology, in collaboration with the Czech University of Defence and the Irish Defence Forces, that aims to protect against harmful pathogens and viral infections such as the coronavirus.

Aquila was started at NUI Galway by Prof Lokesh Joshi and is now led by CEO Cormac Lynch. The company’s research and development team come from backgrounds in glycobiology, immunology, microbiology, biochemistry and analytical chemistry.

According to the start-up, its ABD device is free from alcohol and toxic chemicals, and safely captures, removes and neutralises pathogens and viral infections. The product can be used on skin, sensitive surfaces and medical equipment. ABD is intended to be used by first responders, vulnerable populations and frontline workers.

Aquila’s technology received a share of €314m in European Innovation Council (EIC) funding in June for its ABwipe.

Buymie

Buymie is a same-day grocery delivery platform that was founded in Dublin in 2015 by Devan Hughes and Artavazd Sokhikyan. In Ireland, the start-up’s largest partnership is with supermarket chain Lidl and in the UK, the company recently partnered with Co-op to launch its services in Bristol.

With Buymie, customers can shop through a mobile app and select groceries. Buymie’s shoppers head to the store and pick everything on the list before delivering the groceries, sometimes in as little as an hour. The company’s goal is to offer a faster and more personalised service than grocery stores with next-day delivery services.

As vulnerable and elderly people were advised to avoid supermarkets in the early days of the pandemic, Buymie saw increased demand for its shopping platform. In June, the firm raised an additional €5.8m in funding, bringing the total raised by the company this year to more than €8m.

Kastus

Another start-up that received funding through the EIC is Kastus, which has made a germ-killing coating that has been found to be effective against the coronavirus. Founded in 2014 as a spin-out of TU Dublin, the firm has developed its antimicrobial coating using research conducted by CEO John Browne and technology expert Dr James Kennedy.

Kastus’s tech is baked into glass or metal at the factory during the manufacturing process, and once it is applied it is permanently there. It can be used on everyday surfaces such as smartphones, touchscreens, glass, door handles, ceramics and metals, and provides protection from a range of bacteria and superbugs.

The solution is activated by visible light and it is not reliant on UV light. Because the Kastus antimicrobial coating can be integrated into manufacturing systems, it has no impact on product aesthetics.

LetsGetChecked

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With operations in Dublin and New York, LetsGetChecked is an at-home health testing start-up founded by Peter Foley in 2014. Among the tests it provides to customers are male and female hormone tests, fertility tests, HPV tests, STI testing kits and wellness tests that screen users for cholesterol levels, diabetes risk and various vitamin levels.

During the pandemic, LetsGetChecked launched a two-part test for Covid-19, which can be used under the care of healthcare professionals for diagnosis. To deal with increased demands for its services, the start-up invested in a new US lab to scale up testing capacity.

In May, the company raised $71m in a Series C funding round led by Illumina Ventures and HLM Venture Partners, with participation from new investors Deerfield, Commonfund Capital and Angeles Investments.

RemedyBio

The third Irish start-up on this list to receive a share of the recent EIC funding was RemedyBio, a Dublin-based nanoscale biotechnology company developing ultra-high throughput therapeutic and diagnostic discovery. It received finance for its Rapid Covid-19 Passive Therapy Response platform.

The start-up was founded by Dan Crowley and Paul Leonard. Its technology aims to improve the speed and scale of single cell analysis, with next-generation applications in immunoncology, autoimmune disease and infection disease.

RemedyBio provides deep analysis of individual cell function, as well as large-scale, cell-by-cell combinational biology studying healthy tissue, disease biology and immune function simultaneously. It provides sequencing, replication or banking of post-assay biology for therapeutic design or long-term asset building.

Scurri

Founded in Wexford in 2010 by Rory O’Connor, Scurri is a cloud-based software provider that helps retailers optimise the online ordering, shipping and delivery process. With growth in e-commerce as a result of the pandemic, Scurri’s business has seen increased demand in recent months.

The start-up, which counts eBay and Vision Direct among its customers, helps client companies to add value at multiple stages during the e-commerce journey, from selecting the most effective delivery option for each package, to providing tracking from dispatch to delivery.

In June, the company raised €1.5m in funding to support continued growth. Investors in the round included Act Venture Capital, Episode 1, Pa Nolan and angel investors. With the funding, Scurri plans to fast-track several key strategic hires to accommodate growth, with longer-term plans to expand into new territories.

Sirius XT

Sirius XT is spin-out from the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Physics spectroscopy group. The company, led by CEO Tony McEnroe, is working with vacuum-based laser-produced plasma technology, which has been developed at UCD since 2005 by a team of plasma physicists.

This technology underpins its SXT100 platform, which is a commercial, lab-based solution for imaging subcellular structure. The soft x-ray microscope is capable of quantitatively imaging the subcellular organisation of whole hydrated cells up to 15 micrometres thick at resolutions up to 40 nanometres, in their native state with little preparation and without the use of stains or other contrast-enhancing agents.

The company secured funding from the EIC earlier this year for Licent, a lab instrument for cell nanotomography.

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com