MetHealth declared UCD Start-up of the Year 2022

8 Dec 2022

Dr Fiona McGillicuddy. Image: Nick Bradshaw/Fotonic

NovaUCD company MetHealth came out on top at the UCD VentureLaunch accelerator and bagged €30,000 in prize money.

MetHealth, an early-stage obesity care company, has been recognised with the University College Dublin (UCD) Start-up of the Year Award.

Based at NovaUCD, MetHealth won the accolade by emerging at the top of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator programme today (8 December). As winner, the start-up will get €30,000 in prize money to support the business.

The company is developing a biomarker-based risk stratification platform that can help identify patients with obesity and associated complications, such as liver disease. MetHealth’s platform aims to support clinical decision-making and deliver personalised care for patients.

“The global prevalence of obesity is increasing significantly,” said Dr Fiona McGillicuddy, who is a part of the MetHealth team.

“In the EU alone, some 1.2m people are dying annually due to obesity complications, including from liver disease. Early identification of those patients with liver inflammation is key but this currently involves painful invasive tests.”

McGillicuddy said that MetHealth can, using a blood sample, “stratify” patients with obesity who are at high risk.

“This non-invasive test eliminates pain for the patient, is significantly more cost-effective than an invasive test, can lead to early interventions for high-risk patients and can aid clinical trial recruitment for new drugs targeting the liver.”

Other members of the MetHealth team include UCD researchers Prof Stephen Pennington, Prof Catherine Mooney, Dr Rachel Byrne, Dr Anna Antoniadi and Aleksandra Dudzik.

“We currently plan to spin out of UCD at the end of 2023 when we will be seeking to raise €2m in seed funding to set up the MetHealth laboratory and develop a market ready prototype,” McGillicuddy added.

The award was announced at a NovaUCD Investor Day 2022 event where 27 client companies pitched their business ideas to an audience of investors.

“Between them, these companies are currently seeking to raise over €100m in funding to support them to grow and scale which is an indication of the quality and ambition of NovaUCD client companies,” said UCD director of enterprise and commercialisation Tom Flanagan.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic