7 innovative UCD VentureLaunch start-ups to watch

21 Nov 2019

Some of the finalists in the UCD VentureLaunch programme. Image: UCD

Ahead of the finals of UCD’s VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, we take a look at the seven finalists you’ll want to keep on your radar.

This week, University College Dublin (UCD) announced the seven start-ups based in the university that are set to pitch their business plans at the final of its annual accelerator programme, UCD VentureLaunch.

Each of the start-ups is seeking seed investment, ranging from €250,000 to several million euro in funding. Here’s the low-down on each of the businesses ahead of the programme showcase, which will take place at the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science on 27 November.


Based in NovaUCD, Biosimulytics was founded in 2018. This start-up is developing a software solution that uses a powerful combination of molecular chemistry, quantum physics, AI and high-performance computing to quickly and efficiently predict the most stable polymorph for a given molecule from its basic structure.

The team behind this start-up includes Prof Niall English, Dr Christian Burnham, Dr Pralok Samanta, the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and Peter Doyle.

Branca Bunús

A start-up you may have seen in the headlines last month, Branca Bunús is a team developing technology to help cure Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a painful skin condition that affects around half a million people worldwide.

Three scientists in white lab coats with blue butterflies painted on their hands.

From left: Dr Jonathan O’Keeffe Ahern, Dr Sinead Hickey and Dr Irene Lara-Sáez. Image: PA Media

The team includes Prof Wenxin Wang, Dr Irene Lara-Sáez, Dr Qian Xu, Dr Jonathan O’Keeffe Ahern, Dr Sigen A, Dr Hongyun Tai and Dr Dezhong Zhou.

Branca Bunús is developing a technology that targets the ‘wrong’ part of the diseased skin cells to correct them and help cure the disease.

Cara Rehab

Cara Rehab is developing technology to improve the physical rehabilitation experience using sensor-guided exercise. The company’s technology helps make exercise more effective, educates patients and provides progress monitoring for physiotherapists.

The start-up’s technology is currently under implementation in a private hospital in Dublin, where the company is using its dataset of more than 10,000 exercise repetitions to help patients, while harvesting data to further improve the platform.

The team behind Cara Rehab includes Dr Rob Argent, Gerry Conheady and the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science.


Set up to tackle the issue of bruxism, which is the involuntary clenching and grinding of teeth, iBrux is developing a smart mouthguard and accompanying app. The aim of these is to enable dentists and patients to manage bruxism more effectively.

Some of the people behind iBrux are Dr Eoin O’Cearbhaill, Dr John A Cogan, Frank Dillion and Emer O’Hare from the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

MiNan Technologies

MiNan Technologies provides a full manufacturing process chain to design, rapidly prototype and produce customised precision plastic components and polymeric functional devices.

With eight years of experience working on microinjection moulding of polymeric microfluidic chips with micro and nano features, this start-up aims to offer consultation, design, customisation and production services to companies that want to produce microfluidics.

The MiNan team includes Prof Michael Gilchrist and Dr Nan Zhang from the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Prof Wenxin Wang from UCD’s School of Medicine.


PicoGlaze has developed a technology that works with nature to actively manage the flow of heat through glazing, allowing heat in and out as required by the occupant.

The company’s electronically switchable nano-system can be inserted between two glass panes, enabling the modulation of thermal conductivity and emissivity. The brains behind the project are Dominic Zerulla, associate professor at the UCD School of Physics, and Simon Forsyth.

Zipp Mobility

Led by Charlie Gleeson, a recent graduate of the UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business, Zipp Mobility is an e-scooter rental company that plans to launch in Ireland and beyond in 2020.

Zipp Mobility offers a quick and convenient way for people to travel to and from public transport links without the burden of looking after their own vehicle. The start-up will provide dockless scooter rental with a mobile app.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic