New Irish biotech venture wins NovaUCD Start-Up Award

19 Nov 2009

Equinome has won NovaUCD’s 2009 Start-Up Award and a €5,000 prize after being named overall winner of the 14th NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme (CCDP).

Located at NovaUCD, Equinome is developing genetic tests to optimise decision-making in the breeding and racing of thoroughbred horses.

The company was founded earlier this year by Dr Emmeline Hill, a leading horse genomics researcher in UCD’s School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, in partnership with the renowned Irish racehorse trainer Jim Bolger.

While more than 100,000 thoroughbred foals are registered globally each year, breeding techniques have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years.

Equinome, which is set to launch commercially in early 2010, will become the first company to provide genetic tests for performance-associated genes in thoroughbred horses.

2009 recipients

In total, 15 ventures participated in this year’s NovaUCD CCDP.

Novocept and bettieTM received runner-up awards, prizes of €3,000 and €2,000 respectively and six months of free desk space at NovaUCD.

Novocept is developing a suite of bioinformatic software packages for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to assist them in reducing the time and costs involved in producing new drug candidates and in the redesign of industrial enzymes.

bettieTM is a new communications device designed specifically for the ageing population to allow them to stay in touch more easily with family and friends.
A fourth new venture, Nanolytic Laboratories – a specialist imaging and material-analysis venture – received a special commendation award of six months of free desk space at NovaUCD.

A bit of history

Since NovaUCD CCDP was initiated in 1996, 156 new ventures and 235 individuals have completed the programme.

Past participants have included BiancaMed, Celtic Catalysts, ChangingWorlds, CRDS, Haptica, Locumotion and TopChem.

Speaking at the awards, Dr Pat Frain, director, NovaUCD, said: “The CCDP is designed specifically to assist entrepreneurs in establishing new high-tech and knowledge-intensive ventures, predominantly to commercialise the innovative ideas arising from UCD research programmes.

“These new ventures are of critical importance, especially in the present economic climate, where there is an increasing need to generate opportunities for the creation of highly-skilled employment,” he added.

By Carmel Doyle

Photo: Dr Emmeline Hill and Jim Bolger of Equinome, winner of the NovaUCD 2009 Start-up Award.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic