Irish start-ups lead the way at MedTech Innovator Dublin event

26 Apr 2022

Image: © SomethingIrish/

Six Irish medtech companies are vying for the top prize and a spot on the MedTech Innovator 2022 programme at a Dublin event this week.

More than two dozen international medtech start-ups, including six from Ireland, are pitching their innovations to a host of investors and industry leaders at a MedTech Innovator event in Dublin this week.

The event is being held in partnership with Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

MedTech Innovator, based in California, is one of the world’s most recognisable competitions and accelerators for start-ups creating new technologies in the medtech and digital health space.

Yesterday (25 April), the nonprofit kicked off with an international pitching event at Trinity Business School featuring 27 medical device, digital health and diagnostic companies from across Europe.

Six of them were Irish start-ups: Vertigenius, SymPhysis Medical, InjurySense, Phyxiom, Pumpinheart and Head Diagnostics.

Of the 27 companies that pitched yesterday, five will be selected to pitch at the MedTech Strategist Innovation Summit 2022 at the Shelbourne Hotel in the coming days, after which the judges will select a winner. The event will also serve as a stepping stone for some of the companies to join the prestigious MedTech Innovator 2022 programme.

Trinity has confirmed to that two start-ups linked to the university – Vertigenius and Head Diagnostics – have been selected for the on-stage pitch event and are in the running for the top prize.

Ireland’s ‘amazing’ medtech ecosystem

Paul Grand, a venture capitalist who founded MedTech Innovator in 2013, told that Ireland has the highest number of start-ups of any European country taking part in this year’s international pitch event, followed by Israel and France.

“The Irish medtech ecosystem, particularly in Galway and Dublin, is amazing. Many MedTech Innovator companies that made it to the finals over the years have been from Ireland,” he said. “Almost every time, we have somebody up on the finals stage from Ireland.”

Last year, four Irish start-ups based in Galway – Atrian Medical, Lifelet Medical, Neurent Medical and Tympany Medical – were selected for the MedTech Innovator 2021 programme to show off their innovations to global investors.

Trinity spin-out Vertigenius is another Irish company that is hoping to make it to MedTech Innovator and secure funding for its technology platform that lets users design, prescribe and deploy custom exercises in a clinician portal to help patients with vertigo, dizziness or imbalance.

“Vertigo and dizziness affect one in four people globally, but there are real problems with delivering the treatment,” said Roisin Scallan, co-founder of Vertigenius. “People don’t know if they’re doing the right thing and clinicians don’t have the information that they need.”

Only last month, the start-up was recognised at the Trinity Innovation Awards 2021 for its novel technology, which includes a wearable sensor placed behind the ear and connected to a smartphone app that tracks head movement and collects data for clinicians to assess.

“To date, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, we have got a product that is CE-marked and we’re doing a software launch to the market this quarter,” said Scallan, who co-founded the company with her colleague Dr Dara Meldrum.

“We’re now looking for a seed round to help us expand our team, bring the sensors to the market, and prepare for FDA approval to launch in the US market by 2024.”

Emerging tech

Not all start-ups at the event yesterday are ready to pitch – but are watching other companies and feedback closely in preparation for pitching their own emerging tech ideas in the future.

Cristina Purtill, a researcher and entrepreneur who leads Trinity-based medtech start-up Plio Surgical, told of her plans to take the Enterprise Ireland-backed company to a seed funding round as early as the first quarter of next year.

Plio Surgical is developing a minimally invasive implant for colorectal surgeries that heal fast and avoid any post-surgical complications such as leakage.

“We’re looking to launch in the US market first. In Europe, Germany is one of our target markets because they have one of the highest incidences of colon cancer, followed by the UK and France,” she said. “Of course, we’re working with Irish surgeons, so we’ll launch in Ireland too”.

Grand, who is a “huge fan” of the Irish medtech ecosystem, said that its success can be attributed to Government supports and infrastructure that helps companies thrive.

“And then what we bring is off-island expertise on the US market to help Irish-based companies succeed abroad.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic