10 Irish science-based start-ups to watch

15 Nov 2018

Image: Kesu01/Depositphotos.com

Science is in Ireland’s DNA and the quality of young companies to watch is pretty much scientific evidence of this.

We’re a caring and pragmatic bunch, the Irish, and therefore it is no surprise that the majority of effort by science-led start-ups is in areas such as health and medicine, because that’s also where the money is.

Thanks to the groundwork that has been laid by the academic institutions and the work of Science Foundation Ireland for almost the past 20 years, the tapestry and fabric of Ireland’s innovative ecosystem has never been better.

Earlier this year, we reported that Ireland broke into the top 10 rankings of scientific research by Thomson Reuters and Clarivate InCites for the period 2016-2017. The country is currently 11th in the rankings for 2017-2018.

Here are the science-based Irish start-ups to watch in the year ahead:

AuriGen Medical

From left: AuriGen Medical founders, Tony O’Halloran, chief technology officer, and John Thompson, chief executive officer, at their office in NUI Galway.

From left: AuriGen Medical founders Tony O’Halloran, chief technology officer, and John Thompson, chief executive officer, at their office in NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

AuriGen Medical is developing the first entirely trans-septal implant to treat the risk of both stroke and arrhythmia associated with persistent atrial fibrillation. Founded in 2016 by Tony O’Halloran and Dr John Thompson, AuriGen has raised €2.5m in funding support from Horizon 2020 after ranking number one out of 1,280 applications from all sectors across Europe.


CroíValve is an early-stage medical device company focused on developing a minimally invasive device for the treatment of tricuspid regurgitation. The company is developing a safe, effective and easy-to-deliver device to significantly reduce tricuspid regurgitation in high-risk patients. Founded by Lucy O’Keefe, Martin Quinn, Paul Heneghan and Bruce Murphy, the company was earlier this year awarded the RDS Silver Medal and won the MedTech Awards innovation pitch.

ATXA Therapeutics

ATXA Therapeutics aims to develop small molecule drugs to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension in order to improve treatment options for these patients. A spin-out from University College Dublin, it was founded in 2015 by Daniel O’Mahony and Therese Kinsella. Earlier this year, the company raised €2.5m in the form of a Horizon 2020 grant.


EnteraSense has developed a capsule that can be ingested by patients after surgery to monitor for any subsequent upper gastrointestinal bleeding. The photonic system acquires data from the environment, and it is then processed by an algorithm to determine if blood is present. The company was founded by Donal Devery, Dr Chris Thompson and Dr Marvin Ryou.

Genomics Medicine Ireland

Dr Anne Jones in a dark green blazer in front of the green and white background sign of GMI.

Genomics Medicine Ireland’s new CEO, Dr Anne Jones. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Genomics Medicine Ireland is creating a scientific platform to examine the human genome in order to better understand the role of genetics in disease and rare conditions, leading to new prevention strategies and treatments. The company was founded in Ireland in 2015 by a group of leading life sciences entrepreneurs, investors and researchers. Investors in the company include Amgen, Google Ventures, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ArchVenture Partners and Polaris Partners. In 2016, Genomics Medicine Ireland raised $40m in Series A funding, paving the way for 150 jobs in Dublin. In recent weeks, the company named Dr Anne Jones as its new CEO.


Pictured are Loci Orthopaedics founders Gerry Clarke, CTO, and Dr Brendan Boland, CEO, at their office in NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

From left: Loci Orthopaedics founders Gerry Clarke (CTO) and Dr Brendan Boland (CEO) at their office in NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

Loci Orthopaedics has developed a new clinically proven solution to address the increasing unmet need for thumb-base joint arthritis. Co-founded by Brendan Boland and Gerry Clarke, Loci Orthopaedics recently raised €2.75m in funding to bring its solution to market.

Neurent Medical

Two men in suits with a green field and blue sky in the background.

David Townley and Brian Shields. Image: Michael Dillon

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. The company recently raised €9.3m in a funding round led by Fountain Healthcare Partners including participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital, the Western Development Commission and Enterprise Ireland, as well as a syndicate of Irish medtech veterans.


woman with dark hair and black halterneck top beside man in blue shirt tracing lines on a futuristic screen.

Emmet Browne and Dr Nora Khaldi of Nuritas. Image: Kieran Hartnett

Nuritas uses big data techniques to sift through large amounts of data to discover peptides from food and food by-products, which provide unique solutions for the maintenance of health and wellness. The company recently harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to create a bioactive ingredient that will be brought to market in collaboration with BASF. Last December, Siliconrepublic.com reported that Nuritas secured €16m in Series A funding led by Chicago-based Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, bringing its total investment at the time to approximately €25m from a list of investors that includes Bono and Edge from U2, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Earlier this year, we also reported that Nuritas is working with food giant Nestlé to discover bioactive peptide networks within natural food sources.

Metabolomic Diagnostics

A woman and two men in a science lab wearing white coats.

From left: Frank Walsh, partner, Enterprise Equity and manager of the AIB Seed Capital Fund; Kate Hyland, regulatory scientist, Metabolomic Diagnostics; and Charles Garvey, CEO, Metabolomic Diagnostics. Image: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Metabolomic Diagnostics aims to develop innovative screening tests that can assess someone’s risk of developing complications when they are pregnant. It is hoping to commercialise PrePsia, a simple test that can predict pre-term pre-eclampsia. Led by CEO Charles Garvey, the company has raised €5.9m to date from investors that include SOSV, Enterprise Equity, AIB Seed Capital Fund and the EU’s Horizon 2020.


SiriusXT’s Tony McEnroe named HPSU ‘Founder of the Year’

From left: Kevin Foley, partner, Grant Thornton; HPSU Founder of the Year Tony McEnroe, SiriusXT; and Kevin Sherry, executive director of global business development, Enterprise Ireland. Image: Fennell Photography

SiriusXT has created a benchtop soft X-ray microscope called the SXT100, which can generate high-resolution images of the internal structure of whole biological cells. Founded in 2015 by Dr Kenneth Fahy, Dr Fergal O’Reilly and Dr Paul Sheridan following 10 years of research, the company has raised €6m in funding so far, including backing from Horizon 2020 and Enterprise Ireland.

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Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

Scientific microscope. Image: Kesu01/Depositphotos.com

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