8 Trinity start-ups turning research into innovation

4 Mar 2022

Trinity Innovation Award winners. Image: Paul Sharp

Focusing on areas from agritech to mental health, these eight campus companies were celebrated for their work at the Trinity Innovation Awards.

On 22 February, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs gathered at Trinity College Dublin to recognise some of university’s best minds in research and innovation.

The Trinity Innovation Awards sought to highlight the impressive work of many in the field, from Social Impact Awards to the headline Provost Innovation Award.

Future Human

However, the event also presented awards to eight campus companies for their achievements in a range of disciplines, from agritech to healthcare.

Adama Innovations

Nanoscience research company Adama Innovations uses high-end scanning and imaging electron and ion beam microscopes to produce bespoke microscale and nanoscale shapes and profiles, also known as AFM probes, in diamond and other hard carbon-based materials.

AFM probes have a wide range of uses such as imaging the topography of soft biological materials and probing the mechanical properties of cells and extracellular matrices.

Co-founded by Trinity researcher and materials science expert Dr Graham Cross, the company received a major funding boost in 2014 and has a revenue exceeding €1m per annum.

Biologit

Biologit is an artificial intelligence start-up that aims to help keep patients safe by simplifying the detection of adverse events from drug development to post-market. It does this by automating the task of monitoring scientific literature.

The company is already working alongside several pilot partners in the pharma industry on real-world tasks, rigorously testing its AI models across a variety of cases.

Biologit, which was co-founded by Dr Nicole Baker, has just finished its first fundraising round and is now going out to industry and building its team.

CaliberAI

Founded father-son media team Conor and Neil Brady, CaliberAI aims to provide digital tools to support publishers and platforms by detecting potentially defamatory or harmful text and reducing the risk of publication of such material.

The company’s main product is a browser extension that warns a user when something with a high risk of being defamatory or hateful has been typed, prompting them to think before publishing.

Featured as part of SiliconRepublic.com’s Start-up of the Week series in 2020, Neil said CaliberAI meets the “delicate balance” between freedom of expression and censorship.

CropBiome

CropBiome was born out of research in Trinity and University College Dublin focusing on sustainability in agriculture.

The company sources, selects, ferments, characterises and tests microbes that are formulated into biological products for use in agriculture, rather than chemicals.

Aside from its Trinity Innovation award, CropBiome has also won a number of other accolades including a 2017 Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund award and it was the Dublin regional winner for the 2020 InterTradeIreland SeedCorn competition.

Neuropath Therapeutics

Founded by Dr Julie Kelly, Neuropath Therapeutics is focused on developing an innovative drug treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and motor neurone disease.

Kelly discovered a compound through her research at Trinity into the central nervous system effects and therapeutic potential of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH).

Neuropath’s initial objective is to advance this TRH-based lead compound from the laboratory to early-phase human clinical trials.

Parvalis Tx

Biotech start-up Parvalis Tx has validated a novel approach of blocking a biological pathway involved in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

The company has received backing from the University Bridge Fund of investment firm Atlantic Bridge. It was co-founded by Dr William McCormack, an experienced biotech professional with more than 18 years of research experience.

Parvalis Tx is based on technology conceptualised and developed by McCormack at Prof Kingston Mills’ laboratory at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute.

SilverCloud Health

Digital mental health platform SilverCloud Health was founded in 2012 and its programmes have been used by more than 350,000 users, including more than 70pc of the NHS mental health services in the UK.

The company raised $16m in Series B funding in April 2020 and was acquired by US telehealth company Amwell a year later.

Co-founder Dr Gavin Doherty told SiliconRepublic.com the company’s aim is to build an engaging platform that can be used to deliver multiple online programmes “with a human in the loop”.

Vertigenius

Trinity spin-out Vertigenius has created a technology platform that lets users design, prescribe and deploy custom exercises in a clinician portal to help patients who suffer from vertigo, dizziness or imbalance.

A wearable sensor is placed behind the ear like a hearing aid and paired via Bluetooth with a smartphone app. The sensor can track head movement and deliver data on how the patient is performing the exercises to a clinician, who can guide them remotely.

The company is currently raising a funding round, which will enable the team to get regulatory approval to enter the US market.

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Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com