9 Trinity College Dublin spin-outs and what they’re doing now

22 Oct 20202.67k Views

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Plenty of tech companies have started out in Trinity College Dublin, from a biotech business that was recently sold for €380m to a start-up that enables users to create volumetric holograms.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is one of many academic institutions in Ireland serving as a hub for entrepreneurs, innovators and early-stage start-ups.

Earlier this year, we took a look at some of the digital wellness businesses spinning out of TCD’s campus. Now we’re taking a look at some of the university’s most successful spin-outs to date and where those businesses are today.

The list includes Inflazome, which was recently acquired in a €380m deal, as well as SoapBox Labs, which was named as one of ‘Europe’s hottest start-ups’ last year.

CroíValve

CroíValve, which spun out of the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering in 2018, is developing a minimally invasive treatment for tricuspid regurgitation (TR) – a serious heart condition that occurs when the leaflets of the tricuspid valve (which separates the heart’s right ventricle and right atrium) fail to close properly due to dilation of the heart chambers.

The Dublin medtech business was founded by Lucy O’Keeffe, Martin Quinn, Bruce Murphy and Paul Heneghan. It has gone on to raise €7.2m in funding from investors including the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN), Atlantic Bridge University Fund, Enterprise Ireland and SOSV.

TR affects more than 550,000 people each year in the EU and US – many of whom are elderly patients who can rarely receive surgical treatment. In March 2020, CroíValve announced the first successful human use of its duo tricuspid coaptation valve technology for tricuspid repair. The procedure, which marked a milestone for the company, was performed at St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

DataChemist

DataChemist is a Dublin-based team that is led by Kevin Feeney and Gavin Mendel-Gleason. The TCD spin-out has set out to transform messy, inconsistent datasets from the real world into clean, structured and integrated data.

Its technology is open source and free (under the name TerminusDB), and aims to help users improve their decision-making, while reducing costs and reducing the time and effort required to build any application that shares, manipulates or edits data.

The team behind the TerminusDB database technology ran the Horizon 2020 project Aligned from 2015 to 2018 as a research project in TCD. When the company spun out in 2018, it raised €1.2m in seed funding from Atlantic Bridge with the support of Enterprise Ireland and went on to become recognised as an Enterprise Ireland High-Potential Start-up (HPSU). Last year, it also announced plans to open an R&D hub in the Netherlands.

Head Diagnostics

Head Diagnostics is a TCD spin-out that is developing a handheld medical device to help rapidly assess and evaluate brain impairment and injury. The device can potentially be used with a range of conditions, including traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and other degenerative brain diseases.

The company is led by David van Zuydam, who has worked for blue-chip companies as well as SMEs at executive levels. The bioengineering team behind the start-up’s technology is driven by two PhD doctorates operating out of St James’ Hospital, with the support of a PhD doctorate covering clinical trials and the regulatory requirements.

In 2019, Head Diagnostics was named a HPSU by Enterprise Ireland. The start-up has since raised seed funding through angel investors, NDRC and Enterprise Ireland.

Inflazome

Inflazome was started by medical researchers Prof Matt Cooper from the University of Queensland and Prof Luke O’Neill from TCD. The biotech start-up is leading the development of orally available drugs that address unmet clinical needs in inflammatory diseases by targeting inflammasomes.

Inflammasomes are understood to drive many chronic inflammatory conditions, from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

Inflazome was recognised as a HPSU in 2016 and has since gone on to raise €55m in venture capital funding from investors including Forbion, Longitude Capital, Fountain Healthcare Partners and Novartis Venture Fund. Last month, it was announced that the company is being acquired by Roche in a deal worth €380m.

OneProjects

OneProjects is an Irish-German medtech firm that is led by Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersperger. The company originated in the BioInnovate Ireland medical device centre in Galway, before the founders advanced their technology concept with the support of TCD and NUI Galway.

The start-up has developed a platform called Verafeye to treat cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is an irregular heartbeat caused by chaotic electric signals entering the heart. The affects more than 38m people globally and is a common cause of strokes and other heart conditions.

OneProjects uses advanced imaging and data analytics in conjunction with its catheter-based sensor system to provide 4D data from within the heart, increasing the efficacy and safety of treatment for the growing number of patients worldwide.

Earlier this year, the spin-out raised €11m in Series A funding. Investors in the round included LSP and the Atlantic Bridge University Fund. The company has also received backing from Enterprise Ireland.

ProVerum Medical

ProVerum is an early-stage medical device company that is developing technology to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlargement of the prostate gland that causes difficulty with urination.

To date, the TCD spin-out has raised more than €7m in funding through a number of investment rounds. Investors in the business include Atlantic Bridge University Fund, Enterprise Ireland, and Irish and US-based angel investors such as HBAN, Medtech Syndicate, Irrus Investments, Boole and Xenium Capital.

The company has also been successful in competing for European Innovation Council (EIC) funding in 2020. The EIC, which is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020, aims to support innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and researchers developing smart but highly risky innovations that have the potential to scale internationally.

Selio Medical

Selio Medical was founded by Colm McGarvey and Garrett Ryan. The start-up is developing a novel medical device that aims to transform lung biopsy procedures by eliminating the complication of a collapsed lung, which is common, costly and dangerous.

It won the Health UK-Ireland Headstart Proof of Concept Award in July 2017 and was a Medtech Innovator finalist (one of four out of 600) at the event in California in October 2017.

In 2018, Selio Medical achieved HPSU status with Enterprise Ireland and has since gone on to develop relationships with corporate partners, such as EIT Health. The company is a spin-out of both TCD and NUI Galway and has also participated in the BioInnovate Programme.

SoapBox Labs

SoapBox Labs is a voice technology company specialising in the development of automated speech recognition for children. The company’s voice technology is integrated into third-party education and entertainment apps, tools, games and robotics for kids under the age of 12.

The business was founded by Dr Patricia Scanlon in 2013 and was spun in to TCD to enable the business to work closely with the Learnovate Centre, before spinning back out of the university. SoapBox Labs counts the MIT Media Lab, Amplify and Lingumi among its clients, and was named a HPSU by Enterprise Ireland in 2017.

It has penned significant deals with Microsoft and US education institutes and was named as one of Europe’s hottest start-ups in 2019 by Wired. The company has raised a total of €10.2m to date, including €5.8m in Series A funding earlier this year.

Volograms

Volograms was founded by Dr Rafael Pagés, Dr Jan Ondřej and Dr Konstantinos Ampliantis with the goal of bringing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into the mainstream. The start-up’s technology enables users to capture volumetric holograms (or volograms) of real people for a variety of immersive experiences, apps and social media applications.

The company now employs more than 14 people including creatives and technology experts in 3D vision, AR and VR. Volograms aims to build the first software-only, hardware-agnostic scalable volumetric video creation platform.

It became an Enterprise Ireland HPSU in 2018, raising seed funding of €850,000 that same year through Enterprise Ireland and Atlantic Bridge. In 2020, the start-up raised follow-on funding of €1.5m in a round led by Sure Valley Ventures with Enterprise Ireland and Atlantic Bridge.

Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com