5 promising Irish start-ups focused on sustainability

5 Mar 2020

Image: © kwiatek/Stock.adobe.com

From companies cooling down data centres to helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, we have rounded up the Enterprise Ireland HPSUs to watch in the field of sustainability.

As February came to a close, Enterprise Ireland held its Start-up Showcase for 2020, where around 127 start-ups gathered to network, celebrate and highlight what they have accomplished over the last year.

In particular, Enterprise Ireland used its high potential start-up (HPSU) scheme to put the spotlight on some of the most promising start-ups from around the country. Among the dozens of emerging businesses that were recognised for their innovative solutions, services and products, there were a number of firms focused on sustainability.

We have rounded up five of these start-ups worth keeping an eye on as they graduate from Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU class of 2019 and look to develop solutions for sustainability.


Nexalus is a Cork-based start-up that was founded by Kenneth O’Mahony, Cathal Wilson and Dr Tony Robinson. Recognised as a HPSU by Enterprise Ireland, Nexalus has developed products that increase the efficiency of cooling electronics at various scales, from gaming systems to data centres.

The start-up is looking at a number of areas such as gaming, which is an industry at “the vanguard of computing performance” according to the company, as well as high-performance computing and data centres.

By cooling down these electronics systems, Nexalus aims to help businesses to reduce their energy usage, CO2 output and improve space efficiency. The company claims that it can reduce energy usage and CO2 output by 50pc in some cases.


UrbanVolt was founded in 2015 by Kevin Maughan, Graham Deane and Declan Barrett. The start-up is a “full solution sustainability partner” that aims to help some of the world’s largest energy users to rapidly reduce their carbon footprints.

The company has created an app that can be used by clients to calculate how much energy they are consuming in warehouse lighting, then offers ‘lighting as a service’, where customers can pay for energy efficient, LED lighting through a subscription service.

Once UrbanVolt has applied that solution, it looks into implementing other solutions such as solar and wind energy. The start-up’s end goal is to help businesses become carbon neutral.

In 2018, UrbanVolt signed a €55m funding deal with UK investment company Low Carbon. The start-up counts Pfizer, Heineken and Zimmer Biomet among its clients.

VorTech Water Solutions

VorTech Water Solutions is a start-up that spun out of NUI Galway in 2019. The company specialises in providing energy efficient water and wastewater solutions, with the aim of reducing the massive energy footprint that wastewater treatment contributes to. The company estimates that treating wastewater consumes about 2pc of the world’s electricity.

The founding team – which includes Dr Sean Mulligan, John Geoghegan, Dr Eoghan Clifford, Alan Carty and Peter Leonard –uses expertise in computational fluid dynamics and process modelling to maximise treatment performance at the lowest energy input, developing a solution that VorTech claims can reduce the cost of aeration by up to 50pc. According to the firm, its solution can be added to existing wastewater infrastructure to save on energy, with no downtime.

Some of the projects that the company has worked on so far include the Tuam Wastewater Treatment Plant. As well as focusing on industrial and municipal wastewater, the company has also explored the potential of using its technology in aquaculture and salmon farming.


Claregalway-based Xerotech was founded by Dr Barry Flannery in 2015. In 2018, Flannery was awarded the GMIT New Frontiers Best Emerging Business Award, which came with a €10,000 prize.

The company designs and manufactures ‘next-generation’ thermally managed lithium-ion battery systems for use in the automotive, industrial, marine, aerospace and defence industries. It claims that this system enables faster charging, longer lifetimes and higher sustained power.


ZiggyTec is a Dublin-based IoT company that provides businesses with live data that can be used for benchmarking sustainability improvements and annual reporting obligations. The company helps customers to transform their existing electricity, gas and water meters into cloud-connected devices that communicate with the start-up’s software platform.

Co-founded by Kieran Murphy and Peter Murphy in 2018, ZiggyTec can be used to help businesses monitor air quality, temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, among others, providing clients with the data that is needed to cut back on energy and water consumption.

Some of the start-up’s customers include Savills, Aramark and CBRE. ZiggyTec also has an office in London to cater to the UK market.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic