Lust for life sciences: 24 start-ups that will send investor pulses racing

31 May 2017

Image: R3BV/Shutterstock

These are the 24 Irish life sciences-focused companies that should be on every healthy investor’s radar.

The new rockstars of science and technology aren’t creating social networks or mobile apps per se, they are occupied with the science of living, developing life-saving and life-enhancing solutions, services, drugs, medtech devices and analytical systems.

This new breed includes Nora Khaldi, founder of Nuritas, as well as Conor Hanley, CEO of Fire1, which last year raised $7.5m in a Series B round to develop a novel remote monitoring device.

Life sciences now attracts the lion’s share of venture capital investment activity in Ireland. A recent study by the Irish Venture Capital Association found that a record €888m was raised by Irish SME firms in 2016, largely due to the booming life sciences sector. Of the total €888.1m raised last year, €465.1m was invested in the life sciences sector.

In a boost for the European life sciences start-up ecosystem, Dublin venture capital firm Seroba earlier this year closed its €100m Life Sciences Fund III. This is the fifth fund supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland’s €175m Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2013-2018.

In 2014, the Irish Government unveiled a €172m venture capital fund for investing in innovative Irish companies in the life sciences sector. Lightstone Ventures partnered with Enterprise Ireland and the National Pension Reserve Fund to manage the investment initiative.

Across the country, life sciences and medtech start-ups are sprouting up, continuing a tradition that began with ex-Digital workers in Galway in the ’90s.

At the same time, multinational pharmachem companies are continuing to invest and transform their operations. For example, this week, MSD announced 330 jobs in Cork and Carlow as part of a €280m investment.

Not only that, but Google has reportedly invested €1.4bn into the Irish subsidiary of its Verily life sciences division.

With life sciences clearly on fire, here are the Irish start-ups to watch in this space.

Allergy Lifestyle

Allergy Lifestyle develops a branded range of tailored storage solutions, ensuring that adrenaline and other allergy medicines are available when needed. The company offers a full range of products for people with allergies and asthma, including EpiPen cases, EpiPen bags, allergy bracelets and much more.


Bioxplor is an AI-driven metasearch and community platform for life sciences research and development (R&D) tools and outsourcing. The company’s information engine works to understand millions of data points and predictive signals to help scientists explore experimental data, collaborate, and evaluate and order the products and services used to perform their next experiment.

Bluedrop Medical

Bluedrop Medical

From left: Bluedrop Medical founders Simon Kiersey and Chris Murphy. Image: Bluedrop Medical

Bluedrop Medical is developing an IoT device that can predict the formation of diabetic foot ulcers. The home-based device performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis. The underlying technology has been proven to reduce the rate of ulceration by 70pc.

DiaNia Technologies

DiaNia Technologies is an R&D company specialising in intellectual property (IP) of extrusion technology from advanced materials for catheter-based medical devices. The company’s vision is to be a leading IP technology company focused on market-driven solutions.


EviView provides analytics software for the pharma and biotech industry to capture key metrics and display focused insight.


GlycoSeLect develops and manufactures technologies that improve the analysis, development and manufacture of biopharmaceutical products. Founded in 2013 and based in the DCU Invent Centre, GlycoSeLect caters to the biopharma industry, specialising in the development and production of recombinant prokaryotic lectins.

Health Beacon

Health Beacon has developed a digital platform that ensures patients adhere to their injectable treatments, allowing them to dispose of medication in a safe way and keeping carers up to date with the patients’ progress. The Health Beacon system is currently being trialled in Ireland by a pharma company and the HSE. Health Beacon also opened a new office in Boston to target the North American market.

Intelligent Implant Systems

Intelligent Implant Systems is taking a groundbreaking implantable bioelectrical stimulation system for bone stimulation into the world market. The system is incorporated into standard orthopaedic devices and powered wirelessly.

Kinesis Health Technologies

Kinesis Health Technologies is a medical device company focused on developing products that provide healthcare professionals with greater clinical insight in the assessment of a patient’s movement and motion, using sensor-based technologies. Kinesis products improve the ability to assess fall risk, gait and mobility in a broad range of patient cohorts.

Lifestyle Medical/Activimeter

Lifestyle Medical, also known by its main brand Activimeter, develops software and hardware solutions for the management of lifestyle-related health problems in a clinical and home setting, with a particular focus on limb joint kinetics.


Longboat provides an integrated support platform for site staff, patients, study monitors and clinical trial project teams. The company empowers clinical trial groups to achieve higher levels of study quality and operational efficiency through superior training, targeted and verifiable communication, site and patient engagement, and real-time implementation guidance.


Helixworks makes synthetic DNA for biotech research and has developed a technology to store digital data in DNA.

Neurent Medical

Neurent Medical is a medical device company based in Galway. The company is developing a minimally invasive treatment for rhinitis, a condition affecting millions of people worldwide.

Nova Leah

Medical device manufacturers are facing two challenges: ensuring compliance with evolving regulatory requirements and minimising the probability of malicious attacks to medical devices. Nova Leah’s SelectEvidence is an expert cybersecurity system, guiding manufacturers through the process of identifying potential vulnerabilities and selecting the right controls to mitigate associated risks.


From left: Emmet Browne, CEO of Nuritas; Bono; Dr Nora Khaldi, founder and chief scientific officer of Nuritas; The Edge. Image: Kieran Harnett.

From left: Emmet Browne, CEO of Nuritas; Bono, U2; Dr Nora Khaldi, founder and chief scientific officer of Nuritas; The Edge, U2. Image: Kieran Harnett

Founded by Dr Nora Khaldi in 2013 as a spin-out of NovaUCD’s VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, Nuritas is one of the country’s fastest-growing start-ups. Combining life sciences and AI, Nuritas develops advanced algorithms that mine DNA and protein data from plant material.

Following Khaldi’s appearance at Inspirefest last year, Nuritas made headlines when it announced upcoming growth for 2017, with U2’s Bono and The Edge coming aboard as investors. In the months prior to this, the biotech start-up raised a total of €5m in funding from investors including Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff.


Oculer develops high-throughput, rapid and precise microbial screening assays for applications in the dairy industry. The company uses a combination of instrument technologies and bespoke, selective culture media that are targeted to accurately quantify and profile the extent of specific microbes in a sample matrix.


OrthoXel is a medical device company focused on the development and commercialisation of orthopaedic trauma technologies to treat tibia (shin bone) and femoral (thigh bone) fractures. Its first product, the Apex Tibial Nailing System, will reduce the tibia fracture healing time by 20pc and will be launch-ready this year.


Ostoform has developed a novel Class I medical device that has been proven to manage and effectively reduce skin complications for ostomy patients. The device has been tested on 20 patients with very encouraging results, and commercialisation is planned for Q4 2017.

Percetto Medical

Percetto Medical develops, manufactures, markets and sells intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging systems for image-guided therapy delivery. This includes coronary and peripheral imaging catheters, and supporting IVUS system hardware and software, as well as other percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty catheters and guide wires.

ProVerum Medical

ProVerum Medical supports minimally invasive treatment for patients with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The company has developed a device to restore function to the urethra in BPH patients to enable them to urinate normally, relieving their symptoms while not interfering with sexual function.


Qualio offers quality management software for the life sciences industry. With the easy-to-use platform, companies can manage everything to do with FDA, ISO and GxP compliance in one place.

Rockfield Medical Devices

Rockfield Medical Devices is an innovator in the enteral feed market globally with its ‘plug and play’ technologies. The company’s ‘Pocket Pump’ – a disruptive, mobile feeding system that facilitates an active lifestyle for the end user – is currently under development.

Signum Surgical

Signum Surgical is developing a medical device to treat perianal fistulas, a condition reported 180,000 times annually in the US and Europe combined.


Valitacell develops analytical technologies that enable biopharmaceutical companies to manufacture biologic drugs faster, cheaper and with greater regulatory confidence.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years