Student start-ups win big at NUI Galway accelerator

11 Jul 2022

Peter Best-Lydon and Ciarán McDermott of Ictus Medical. Image: Martina Regan

Ictus Medical and Iris have emerged winners in the inaugural Start100 incubator, which has up to €40,000 in funding support for innovative ideas.

Two student-led start-ups have bagged awards at the inaugural Start100 accelerator at NUI Galway.

The accelerator was hosted by IdeasLab, the entrepreneurial and innovation hub located in NUI Galway. Launched earlier this year, its six-week Start100 student incubator programme aims to help students with novel business ideas to launch early-stage start-ups.

In its first year, Start100 saw nine teams of students present at a special showcase event bringing their innovative ideas to a panel of judges from the worlds of academia, research, industry and enterprise. Results were announced last Friday (8 July).

Start100 provides a physical space, networking opportunities, mentorship from industry experts and alumni, and up to €40,000 in funding to support students throughout the programme.

Ictus Medical, which emerged as the overall winner, is a medical device start-up led by Peter Best-Lydon and Ciarán McDermott. Best-Lydon is a recent biomedical engineering graduate, while McDermott is a final-year student in electronic engineering.

The start-up is developing a painless monitoring device to help stroke survivors take control of their health by detecting sleeping strokes.

“We are absolutely delighted to win. Start100 has been a massive help to us with all the connections that we have made,” said Best-Lydon. “There is a buzz every week in IdeasLab and it was great to get a sense of working in a start-up. We are really looking forward to making a significant impact to the patient.’’

Iris, a construction device start-up, bagged the One to Watch award. It was founded by Keelan Rowley and Michael Dillon, both recent graduates of project and construction management from NUI Galway.

Iris is a safety device that helps detect the presence of people and animals from machinery such as tractors, diggers and dumpers. The founders will now use their award to focus on prototyping and validating the idea.

“It’s a great encouragement to see young people finding solutions to problems through innovation, ideas and solutions and also to see them being supported in that journey by our educators, our university community, and our civic and business networks,” said NUI Galway president Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh.

Some of the other start-ups included Receipt Relay, which is developing customer insights software for retail and hospitality chains; ThoughtGarden, a CBT-based mobile game to reduce anxiety and depression; DataPals, a data-driven e-commerce agency; and, an application that facilitates the remote capture of patient’s foot scan data using just a smartphone.

“In recent years, we have seen some fantastic student entrepreneurs create global businesses in the west of Ireland,” said Dr Natalie Walsh, director of entrepreneurial development at NUI Galway.

“Through Start100, we now have a platform to support more students to achieve this type of success through the creation of commercial and social enterprises.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic