10 of NUI Galway’s most remarkable spin-outs

10 Oct 20192.05k Views

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From medtech and medical device companies to energy and environment firms, we’ve rounded up 10 of Galway’s university spin-outs.

This month, Siliconrepublic.com is focusing on Galway’s contributions to the world of business, STEM and innovation in Ireland.

It would be impossible to do this without highlighting some of the companies that have come from NUI Galway’s campus over the last two decades, so we have rounded up some of the spin-outs that stand out the most.

Kite Medical

Founded by Sarah Loughney, who completed the BioInnovate programme in 2013, Kite Medical spun out of NUI Galway in 2016. Led by CEO Joan FitzPatrick, the company has since raised €1.5m from private investment and Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up funding. It has developed a child-friendly solution to screen young patients for kidney reflux.

The non-invasive solution removes the need for a complicated, uncomfortable procedure and hospital visit. While kidney reflux can resolve itself as the child gets older, if it’s left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to permanent kidney damage and in some cases, kidney failure.

This spin-out aims to provide a patient-focused solution that will screen children at risk to enable early detection of clinically significant cases of kidney reflux.

Westway Health

Westway Health is developing novel antimicrobial technologies in a range of applications in the fields of human health, animal health and environmental sterilisation. It secured €2.5m in EU funding in 2017.

The company’s co-founders include CEO Ruairi Friel, CSO Prof Vincent O’Flaherty and CCO Brian O’Briain.

AuriGen Medical

Founded in 2016, AuriGen Medical is led by Tony O’Halloran and CEO Dr John Thompson. The NUI Galway spin-out is a medical device company dedicated to transforming the management of longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) by developing the first cardiac implant to treat both the stroke and arrhythmia risk associated with this condition.

The company raised €2.5m in 2018 from the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument scheme. Thompson and O’Halloran met through Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland programme and took part in Enterprise Ireland’s commercialisation programme.

Farmeye

Farmeye is led by Dr Eoghan Finneran who serves as CEO, Joe Desbonnet who serves as CTO and business manager Brendan Allen. Pioneering food traceability with blockchain, Farmeye has created a platform for measuring food chain sustainability.

The platform collates data from all links of the pasture-based supply chain, enhancing traceability, consumer confidence and promoting improved quality control and sustainability in food production.

The company has also developed Soilmate, a unique app and web-based system that uses GPS and barcoding to geotag the location of a soil sample sent to the laboratory for analysis, removing the manual labelling and human error involved in the process. Last year the company announced plans to hire 10, and it is currently seeking investment.

Loci Orthopaedics

Founded by CEO Dr Brendan Boland and CTO Gerry Clarke, Loci Orthopaedics has raised €2.75m in seed funding and recently received a €2.5m grant from the EU to fast-track the development of the company’s solution for arthritis in the base of the thumb.

The spin-out has developed a product called the InDx, which can fully mimic the natural but complex motions of the thumb joint. This device is easier to insert and less invasive than any currently available surgical treatment option for thumb arthritis.

Loci has also developed a new surface architecture for orthopaedic stem components, which incorporates a multitude of tiny anchor features for embedding into the patients’ host bone during implantation. This uses a 3D-printed surface architecture, and results in improved primary fixation and resistance to micromotions once the patient starts moving again.

Atrian Medical

Like AuriGen, Atrian Medical focuses on atrial fibrillation, which is the occurrence of an irregular, rapid heart rate that can increase risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Atrian has developed a new approach for the treatment of this condition, which targets the origin of the electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation.

By delivering short pulses of electrical energy to clusters of neuronal cells on the outside of the heart in which the arrhythmia originates, this treatment selectively targets the cells responsible for the errant signals without damaging the heart muscle.

This is in contrast to other solutions, which use heat or freezing to ablate tissues with an intent to create scar tissue, damaging the surrounding healthy tissues. The company was co-founded by Barry O’Brien and Ken Coffey.

Qpercom

Spun out from NUI Galway in 2008, Qpercom is led by CEO Dr Thomas Kropmans and COO David Cunningham. This company offers a range of advanced assessment features, providing solutions for high-stakes exams and interviews in many industries worldwide.

The company wants to empower organisations to move beyond basic testing to achieve precise and quality assured skills assessment, meeting the needs of modern educators and assessors.

The team has developed systems capable of compiling, analysing and distributing results electronically without fear of technical difficulties, eliminating paper trails and the time spent on administrative tasks.

Orbsen Therapeutics

Founded in 2006, Orbsen Therapeutics is a spin-out company from Remedi, based in NUI Galway and led by CEO Dr Larry Couture and CSO Dr Stephen Elliman. The company has worked on a €6m partnership with the University of Birmingham to develop a cell therapy for inflammatory liver disease.

The company has developed proprietary technologies focused on the isolation of pure and defined stromal cells. It now has a pipeline of clinical indications where those proprietary technologies can deliver potential therapies.

These stromal cells hold great promise as an alternative to drugs and surgical procedures for treating a wide range of medical conditions including heart disease, arterial disease of the limbs, diabetes complications, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

NVP Energy

Founded in 2011 by Alan Phelan and Sean McKeague, NVP Energy markets sustainable wastewater treatment technology that has the ability to treat effluent while considerably lowering operating costs and carbon emissions.

NVP Energy has won a number of awards, including SFA National Small Business Awards 2019 Innovator of the Year, the Water and Energy Award at the WEX Global Awards in 2018 and the Irish Times Innovation Award in 2017.

Neurent Medical

Recognised by Enterprise Ireland as a high potential start-up, Neurent Medical targets allergic and non-allergic rhinitis with its product offering.

The company has developed a minimally invasive hand-held radio frequency device that ENT surgeons can use to treat patients in an office setting, removing the costs and complications associated with existing surgical procedures.

Founded by Brian Shields and David Townley, Neurent Medical raised €9.3m in investment last year from Irish and international investors.

Updated, 10am, 10 October 2019: This article was updated to clarify that Kite Medical was founded by Sarah Loughney.

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com